Objective versus subjective outcomes assessment in rhinology

Michael G. Stewart, Timothy L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Background: Prior studies on the relationship between computed tomography scan findings and patient-based quality of life in chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) have found very low correlations. Whereas surprising, similar findings have been noted in other diseases. Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of the association between objective and subjective findings in nasal septal deformity and a systematic review and synthesis of the literature on CRS and other diseases. Results: We found no association between objective anatomic findings and subjective symptoms in nasal obstruction (R = 0.03; Kruskal-Wallis test, p = 0.97). Multiple studies in CRS and other diseases - sleep apnea, hearing loss, asthma, etc. - have found similarly low correlations between objective and subjective testing. Conclusion: For nasal septal deviation and CRS, the patient's subjective perception of disease severity has, at best, a very weak association with objective assessment of severity. Patient-based outcomes assessment remains important; these instruments apparently quantify an aspect of disease not detected by objective testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-535
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Rhinology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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