The Visceral Sensitivity Index: development and validation of a gastrointestinal symptom-specific anxiety scale.

Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics

PubMedID: 15225175

Labus JS, Bolus R, Chang L, Wiklund I, Naesdal J, Mayer EA, Naliboff BD. The Visceral Sensitivity Index: development and validation of a gastrointestinal symptom-specific anxiety scale. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004;20(1):89-97.
BACKGROUND
Anxiety related to gastrointestinal sensations, symptoms or the contexts in which these may occur is thought to play a significant role in the pathophysiology as well as in the health outcomes of patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

AIM
To develop a valid and reliable psychometric instrument that measures gastrointestinal symptom-specific anxiety.

METHODS
External and internal expert panels as well as a patient focus group evaluated a large pool of potential item stems gathered from the psychological and gastrointestinal literature. Potential scale items were then administered to 96 patients diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome along with a set of validating questionnaires. Final item selection was based upon rigorous empirical criteria and the psychometric properties of the final scale were examined.

RESULTS
A final unidimensional 15-item scale, the Visceral Sensitivity Index, demonstrated excellent reliability as well as good content, convergent, divergent and predictive validity.

CONCLUSIONS
The findings suggest that the Visceral Sensitivity Index is a reliable, valid measure of gastrointestinal symptom-specific anxiety that may be useful for clinical assessment, treatment outcome studies, and mechanistic studies of the role of symptom-related anxiety in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.