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The Vulvovaginal Symptoms Questionnaire: a questionnaire for measuring vulvovaginal symptoms in postmenopausal women

Erekson, Elisabeth A. MD, MPH1; Yip, Sallis O. MD1; Wedderburn, Terri S. BS1; Martin, Deanna K. MPH1; Li, Fang-Yong MPH2; Choi, Jennifer N. MD3; Kenton, Kimberly S. MD, MS4; Fried, Terri R. MD5

doi: 10.1097/GME.0b013e318282600b
Original Articles

Objective This study aims to develop a Vulvovaginal Symptoms Questionnaire (VSQ) to determine the symptoms, emotions, life impact, and sexual impact of vulvovaginal symptoms on postmenopausal women.

Methods We developed a questionnaire that focuses on vulvovaginal symptoms based on modifications to Skindex-16, a validated questionnaire for measuring the impact of skin disease. We recruited postmenopausal women seeking routine gynecologic care to test the psychometric properties of the VSQ. Test-retest reliability was assessed 2 to 4 weeks after their initial recruitment and measured using intraclass coefficients. Four distinct a priori scales of the VSQ were developed: symptoms, emotions, life impact, and sexual impact. Confirmatory factor analysis was performed to verify the four a priori scales by evaluating the goodness of fit of a final confirmatory factor analysis model. The internal consistency of the scales was assessed by calculating Cronbach’s α coefficients.

Results The VSQ is a 21-item written questionnaire with four scales: symptoms, emotions, life impact, and sexual impact. One hundred twenty postmenopausal women participated in the psychometric validation of the VSQ. The test-retest reliability measured by intraclass coefficients was 0.75, 0.60, 0.55, and 0.65 for the symptoms, emotions, life impact, and sexual impact scales, respectively. The goodness of fit of the confirmatory factor response model was confirmed. The Cronbach’s α coefficients were 0.76, 0.87, 0.83, and 0.82 for the respective scales.

Conclusions The VSQ is a reliable and internally consistent instrument for measuring vulvovaginal symptoms in postmenopausal women.

From the 1Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; 2Yale Center for Analytical Sciences, Yale University School of Public Health, New Haven, CT; 3Department of Dermatology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; 4Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, IL; and 5Section of Geriatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.

Received November 9, 2012; revised and accepted December 10, 2012.

Funding/support: This work was supported in part by a grant from the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center at Yale University School of Medicine (P30AG021342 NIH/NIA) and an award from the National Institutes on Aging (R03AG042363-01).

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s Web site (www.menopause.org).

Address correspondence to: Elisabeth A. Erekson, MD, MPH, Yale University School of Medicine, PO Box 208063, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06519. E-mail: elisabeth.erekson@yale.edu

© 2013 by The North American Menopause Society.