Constructing the Vulvar Pain Assessment Questionnaire Inventory
Dargie, Emma Elizabeth
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The goals of this program of research were to examine the link between self-reported vulvar pain and clinical diagnoses, and to create a user-friendly assessment tool to aid in that process. These goals were undertaken through a series of four empirical studies (Chapters 2-6): one archival study, two online studies, and one study conducted in a Women’s Health clinic. In Chapter 2, the link between self-report and clinical diagnosis was confirmed by extracting data from multiple studies conducted in the Sexual Health Research Laboratory over the course of several years. We demonstrated the accuracy of diagnosis based on multiple factors, and explored the varied gynecological presentation of different diagnostic groups. Chapter 3 was based on an online study designed to create the Vulvar Pain Assessment Questionnaire (VPAQ) inventory. Following the construct validation approach, a large pool of potential items was created to capture a broad selection of vulvar pain symptoms. Nearly 300 participants completed the entire item pool, and a series of factor analyses were utilized to narrow down the items and create scales/subscales. Relationships were computed among subscales and validated scales to establish convergent and discriminant validity. Chapters 4 and 5 were conducted in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University. The brief screening version of the VPAQ was employed with patients of the Program in Vulvar Health at the Center for Women’s Health. The accuracy and usefulness of the VPAQscreen was determined from the perspective of patients as well as their health care providers, and the treatment-seeking experiences of patients was explored. Finally, a second online study was conducted to confirm the factor structure, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability of the VPAQ inventory. The results presented in these chapters confirm the link between targeted questions and accurate diagnoses, and provide a guideline that is useful and accessible for providers and patients.