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Journal of Women's Health Physical Therapy:
Research Report

Assessing Quality of Life for Females with Upper Extremity Lymphedema

Mitchell, Katy PT, PhD1; Gleeson, Peggy B. PT, PhD2; Smith, Shelley DiCecco, PT, PhD(C), CSLT3

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Objective:: Assessing quality of life (QOL) has become a key component in client evaluation and assessment. Due to increasing emphasis, several generic QOL tools have been developed to measure a wide variety of categories relating to QOL. However, these tools may be too general to assess disease specific symptoms. The purpose of this review of literature was to determine if there was an appropriate QOL tool available for evaluating females with upper extremity lymphedema.

Study Design:: Literature was obtained from a search of the PubMed and Cinahl databases for the past 10 years. Foundational articles from prior work were also reviewed. The key words/phrases used to search the literature included: quality of life, lymphedema, swelling, arm, upper extremity, and outcomes.

Background:: Lymphedema is associated with numerous symptoms which can negatively impact QOL such as pain and impaired mobility. However, there is limited research in the area of lymphedema treatment and associated outcome measures related to QOL assessment.

Methods and Measures:: A literature review was conducted of current QOL tools and the tools' ability to accurately assess symptoms associated with upper extremity lymphedema.

Results:: Thirteen tools were evaluated for the ability to properly evaluate quality of life for individuals with upper extremity lymphedema.

Conclusions:: There have been a limited number of specific tools designed for this population; the recommendation is to use a battery of assessments to more fully assess quality of life.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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