Selecting symptom instruments for cardiovascular populations

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The purpose of this review is to provide a guide for researchers and clinicians in selecting an instrument to measure four commonly occurring symptoms (dyspnea, chest pain, palpitations, and fatigue) in cardiac populations (acute coronary syndrome, heart failure, arrhythmia/atrial fibrillation, and angina, or patients undergoing cardiac interventions). An integrative review of the literature was conducted. A total of 102 studies summarizing information on 36 different instruments are reported in this integrative review. The majority of the instruments measured multiple symptoms and were used for one population. A majority of the symptom measures were disease-specific and were multi-dimensional. This review summarizes the psychometrics and defining characteristics of instruments to measure the four commonly occurring symptoms in cardiac populations. Simple, psychometrically strong instruments do exist and should be considered for use; however, there is less evidence of responsiveness to change over time for the majority of instruments.

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