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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Measuring changes in self-concept: a qualitative evaluation of outcome questionnaires in people having acupuncture for their chronic health problems

Charlotte Paterson

Author Affiliations

MRC Health Services Research Collaboration, Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol. Bristol, UK

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2006, 6:7  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-7

Published: 16 March 2006

Abstract

Background

Changes in self-concept are an important potential outcome for many interventions for people with long-term conditions. This study sought to identify and evaluate outcome questionnaires suitable for quantifying changes in self-concept in people with long-term conditions, in the context of treatment with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Methods

A literature search was followed by an evaluation of three questionnaires: The Wellbeing Questionnaire W-BQ12, the Patient Enablement Instrument (PEI), and the Arizona Integrative Outcome Scale (AIOS). A convenience sample of 23 people completed the questionnaires on two occasions and were interviewed about their experience and their questionnaire responses. All acupuncturists were interviewed.

Results

Changes in self-concept were common and emerged over time. The three questionnaires had different strengths and weaknesses in relation to measuring changes in self-concept. The generic AIOS had face validity and was sensitive to changes in self-concept over time, but it lacked specificity. The PEI was sensitive and specific in measuring these changes but had lower acceptability. The sensitivity of the W-BQ12 was affected by initial high scores (ceiling effect) and a shorter timescale but was acceptable and is suitable for repeated administration. The PEI and W-BQ12 questionnaires worked well in combination.

Conclusion

Changes in self-concept are important outcomes of complex interventions for people with long-term illness and their measurement requires carefully evaluated tools and long-term follow-up. The literature review and the analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the questionnaires is a resource for other researchers. The W-BQ12 and the PEI both proved useful for this population and a larger quantitative study is planned.