Measuring musculoskeletal symptoms in cancer survivors who receive hematopoietic cell transplantation
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Beyond documentation of high prevalence rates, research has not examined the qualities and characteristics of musculoskeletal symptoms in cancer survivors, possibly because measures have not been validated specifically for the assessment of these symptoms in survivors. We report here on a new measure of muscle and joint symptoms for survivors of hematologic malignancies and hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT).
In a cross-sectional design, 130 adults, 5–20 years after HCT, completed patient-reported outcomes. Assessment included musculoskeletal symptoms on the Muscle and Joint Measure (MJM), as well as health-related quality of life and treatments.
Principal components analysis using promax rotation revealed four subscales for the MJM with item factor loadings above 0.50: muscle aches or stiffness (myalgias), joint pain, stiffness or swelling (arthralgias), muscle cramps, and muscle weakness. Variance explained by the total score was 77%. Internal consistency reliabilities of the subscales and total score ranged from 0.86 to 0.93. Validity was confirmed by correlations with the Short Form-36 bodily pain, physical function and vitality subscales, the Fatigue Symptom Inventory, and the Symptom Checklist-90-R depression (all P < .001).
Musculoskeletal symptoms in survivors who received HCT can be measured reliably and validly with the MJM. The measure requires testing to establish its psychometric properties with other diagnostic and treatment groups.
Implications for Cancer Survivors
The MJM has potential research and clinical value for addressing the musculoskeletal symptoms of survivors. The measure may assist with examining the mechanisms as well as treatments for these symptoms, which are among the most prevalent in long-term cancer survivors.