Health-related quality of life in Huntington's disease: Which factors matter most?


The aim of this article was to determine which aspects of Huntington's disease (HD) are most important with regard to the health-related quality of life (HrQOL) of patients with this neurodegenerative disease. Seventy patients with HD participated in the study. Assessment comprised the Unified Huntington's Disease Rating Scale (UHDRS) motor, cognitive and functional capacity sections, and the Beck Depression inventory. Mental and physical HrQOL were assessed using summary scores of the SF-36. Multiple regression analyses showed that functional capacity and depressive mood were significantly associated with HrQOL, in that greater impairments in HrQOL were associated with higher levels of depressive mood and lower functional capacity. Motor symptoms and cognitive function were not found to be as closely linked with HrQOL. Therefore, it can be concluded that, depressive mood and greater functional incapacity are key factors in HrQOL for people with HD, and further longitudinal investigation will be useful to determine their utility as specific targets in intervention studies aimed at improving patient HrQOL, or whether other mediating variables. As these two factors had a similar association with the mental and physical summary scores of the SF-36, this generic HrQOL measure did not adequately capture and distinguish the true mental and physical health-related HrQOL in HD.