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Cancer. 2010 Apr 15;116(8):2053-63. doi: 10.1002/cncr.24920.

Validation and application of a module of the M. D. Anderson Symptom Inventory for measuring multiple symptoms in patients with gastrointestinal cancer (the MDASI-GI).

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  • 1Department of Symptom Research, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.



The M. D. Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI) was developed as a brief yet comprehensive tool to assess patient-reported symptom severity and interference in patients with cancer. The authors report the development of an MDASI module for use in patients with gastrointestinal (GI) cancer (the MDASI-GI).


Patients with GI cancer (N = 184) participated in module development and validation. The process included: 1) generating GI-specific candidate items with input from GI oncologists and from qualitative interviews with patients and adding those items to the core MDASI for testing; 2) dropping candidate GI items that lacked sensitivity; 3) validating the psychometric properties (validity, reliability, sensitivity) of the resulting MDASI-GI; and 4) conducting cognitive debriefing interviews with patients to confirm the questionnaire's ease of comprehension, relevance, and acceptability.


Five GI-specific symptom items (constipation, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, change in taste, and feeling bloated) were added to the original 19 MDASI symptom and interference items to form the MDASI-GI. Sixty-one percent of the sample had 1 or more moderate-to-severe symptom(s) (>or=5 on a severity scale from 0 to 10). Cronbach alpha values were .80 and .87 for symptom severity items and interference items, respectively. Known-group validity (sensitivity) was supported by the ability of the MDASI-GI to detect significant differences in symptom and interference levels according to performance status (P < .001). Cognitive debriefing demonstrated that, for patients, the MDASI-GI was an easy-to-use and understandable tool.


The current results indicated that the MDASI-GI is a valid, reliable, and concise tool for measuring symptom severity and interference with function in patients with GI cancer.

(c) 2010 American Cancer Society.

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