SymTrak-8 as a Brief Measure for Assessing Symptoms in Older Adults

Abstract

Background

Patient- and caregiver-reported 23-item SymTrak scales were validated for monitoring clinically actionable symptoms and impairments associated with multiple chronic conditions (MCCs) in older adults. Items capture physical and emotional symptoms and impairments in physical and cognitive functioning. An abbreviated SymTrak is desirable when response burden is a concern.

Objective

Develop and validate the 8-item SymTrak.

Design and Participants

Secondary analysis of SymTrak validation study; 600 participants (200 patient-caregiver dyads; 200 patients without an identified caregiver).

Main Measures

Demographic questions, SymTrak, and Health Utility Index Mark 3 (HUI3).

Key Results

SymTrak-8 demonstrated good fit to a one-factor model using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Concurrent criterion validity was supported by high standardized linear regression coefficients (STB) between baseline SymTrak-8 total score (independent variable) and baseline HUI3 preference-based overall HRQOL utility score (dependent variable; 0 = death, 1 = perfect health), after adjusting for demographics, comorbid conditions, and medications, with strength comparable to SymTrak-23 (STB = − 0.81 and − 0.84, respectively, for SymTrak-8 and SymTrak-23, when patient-reported; and − 0.60 and − 0.62, respectively, when caregiver-reported). Coefficient alpha (0.74; 0.76) and 24-h test–retest reliability (0.83; 0.87) were high for SymTrak-8 for patients and caregivers, respectively. The convergent correlation between brief and parent SymTrak scales was high (0.94). SymTrak-8 demonstrated approximate normality and a linear relationship with SymTrak-23 and HUI3. Importantly, a 3-month change in SymTrak-8 was sensitive to detecting the criterion (3-month reliable change categories; improved, stable, declined in HUI3 overall utility), with results comparable to SymTrak-23.

Conclusions

SymTrak-8 total score demonstrates internal reliably, test–retest reliability, criterion validity, and sensitivity to change that are comparable to SymTrak-23. Thus, patient- or caregiver-reported SymTrak-8 is a viable option for identifying and monitoring the aggregate effect of symptoms and functional impairments in patients with multimorbidity when response burden is a concern.

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Funding

This work was supported by a National Institute on Aging R01 award to P.O.M. (R01 AG043465). The sponsor had no role in study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the article for publication. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute on Aging.

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Correspondence to Patrick O. Monahan PhD.

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Conflict of Interest

All authors have no financial or non-financial interests. Patrick O. Monahan is Chief Technology Officer and has 3% equity ownership (valued at $3000) in a for-profit company called RestUp. The purpose of RestUp is to use internet and mobile technology to connect caregivers and care seekers. The RestUp caregivers are paid hourly, as 1099 contractors, by care seekers, and RestUp earns its income by receiving a percentage of each hour worked. The present paper has no overlap with the RestUp company; the SymTrak tool developed in the paper is not used in the RestUp company; and none of the activities of the RestUp company are involved in any way with this paper or the SymTrak tool.

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Monahan, P.O., Kroenke, K. & Stump, T.E. SymTrak-8 as a Brief Measure for Assessing Symptoms in Older Adults. J GEN INTERN MED (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-020-06329-5

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Key Words

  • primary care
  • psychometrics
  • multimorbidity
  • aging
  • scale
  • symptoms