Angina patients' ratings of current health and health without angina: associations with severity of angina and comorbidity.
OBJECTIVE. To investigate the relationship between chronic stable angina patients' ratings of two health states (current health and health free of angina), the difference between these two ratings (the "anticipated gain"), and measures of anginal severity and comorbidity. DESIGN. Cross-sectional interviews and questionnaires. SETTING. Out-patient clinics and medical inpatient service of a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. PARTICIPANTS. Patients with chronic stable angina with no prior history of a revascularization procedure attending clinic appointments (n = 44) or electively admitted for cardiac catheterization (n = 11). Measurements. Ratings of current health and health free of angina using a verbal rating scale in which 0 = death and 100 = perfect health, the MOS SF-36, the Index of Coexistent Disease (a validated measure of comorbidity), and a question on the severity of anginal symptoms. RESULTS. Mean (95% CI) rating of current health was 61.8 (59.2, 64.4) and that of health free of angina was 77.0 (74.5, 79.5). Median anticipated gain between the two health ratings was 10.0 (range 0-80). Correlations between ratings for both health states and subscales of the SF-36 were positive, with some reaching statistical significance. In regression models with rating of current health, rating of life without angina, and anticipated gain as the dependent variables, severity of comorbidity was highly significant in all three, whereas severity of angina was significant only in the current-health rating model. Severity of comorbidity had much greater explanatory power in all three models than did severity of angina. CONCLUSIONS. Severity of comorbidity was a better predictor of patients' current health rating, rating for angina-free health, and anticipated gain from relief of angina than was severity of angina. Since patient perceptions of a symptom may be distinct from self-reported symptom severity, treatment-outcome studies should assess patient preferences in addition to symptom severity. Comorbidity should also be measured in such studies. Having patients rate current health and symptom-free health may be a useful measure of treatment effectiveness for specific symptoms in clinical trials and patient care, and may help patients and clinicians prioritize multiple health problems.