Patient-reported outcomes are increasingly recommended to guide patient care, develop and evaluate interventions, and modify health systems. However, not enough is known about whether and how children and adolescents, as “experts” in their own health and quality of life (QoL), are being engaged in the development of instruments. Our goals in this review were (1) to identify all QoL-related instruments that have included children and/or adolescents in the development of questionnaire content, including identification of themes and items; and (2) to report how this was done; and (3) to highlight those that used qualitative methods.
MEDLINE and Embase were searched for child- or adolescent-completed QoL-related instruments, supplemented by hand-searching of relevant reviews until 2020. Original development papers were identified and retrieved when possible, from which instrument characteristics and details of qualitative development methods were extracted.
We identified 445 instruments, of which 88 used qualitative methods for content development. Interviews and focus groups were the most common methods. A variety of play techniques were used to engage the child and adolescent participants. The specific criteria for the inclusion of children and adolescents (age, developmental stage, duration, and nonclinical location) varied considerably.
Researchers frequently involve children and adolescents in qualitative methods when developing QoL-related measures; however, there is little information about the methods used. Better reporting of methodology, improved dissemination of methods guidelines, and research into optimal ways of including children and adolescents in the process of instrument development would be useful.
Jessica Willis Dena Zeratkaar Julia ten Hove Peter Rosenbaum Gabriel M. Ronen