The Spinal Muscular Atrophy Health Index: A novel outcome for measuring how a patient feels and functions

Christine E. Zizzi, Elizabeth Luebbe, Phillip Mongiovi, Michael Hunter, Nuran Dilek, Connie Garland, Emma Ciafaloni, Craig M. Zaidman, John T. Kissel, Michael P. McDermott, Nicholas Johnson, Valeria Sansone, Chad R. Heatwole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Introduction: The Spinal Muscular Atrophy Health Index (SMA-HI) is a multifaceted, disease-specific, patient-reported outcome to measure an SMA patient's perception of their disease burden. In preparation for upcoming therapeutic trials, we examine the validity, reliability, and usability of the SMA-HI in adults, teenagers, and children with SMA. Methods: Using data from a cross-sectional study of 359 international adult patients with SMA, we identified the most relevant symptoms to include in the SMA-HI. We utilized factor analysis, patient interviews with adults and minors (age 8-15 years), known-group validity testing, and test-retest reliability assessments to evaluate and refine the SMA-HI. Results: The SMA-HI measures overall disease burden and 15 areas of SMA health. Fifteen adult patients and five patients, age 8 to 15 years, participated in semistructured qualitative interviews and found the SMA-HI to be comprehensive, easily completed, and to have clear meaning. The final SMA-HI and its subscales demonstrated good internal consistency (Cronbach α = 0.77-0.96), high test-retest reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.60-0.96), and an ability to differentiate between SMA groups with different disease severities affecting areas such as employment and ambulation (P <.0001 for both). Discussion: This research provides evidence that the SMA-HI is a valid, relevant, and reliable outcome measure to assess multifaceted patient-reported disease burden in older children, teenagers, and adults with SMA. The SMA-HI provides an opportunity for researchers and clinicians to measure a SMA patient's perception of their health and determine relevant changes in response to therapeutic intervention or disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-844
Number of pages8
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • disease burden
  • patient-reported outcome measure
  • quality of life
  • spinal muscular atrophy
  • symptom assessment
  • therapeutic trial


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