Measuring the Symptom Experience of Chinese Cancer Patients: A Validation of the Chinese Version of the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale

Karis K.F. Cheng*, Eric M.C. Wong, W. M. Ling, Carmen W.H. Chan, David Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to translate the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale (MSAS) into Chinese and evaluate the psychometric properties of this version. The original MSAS is a 32-item, patient-rated measure that was developed to assess common cancer-related physical and psychological symptoms with respect to frequency, intensity, and distress. In this study, a two-phase design was used. Phase I involved iterative forward-backward translation, testing of content validity (CVI) and a pretest. Phase II established the psychometric properties of the Chinese version MSAS (MSAS-Ch). Results showed that the MSAS-Ch achieved content relevancy CVI of 0.94 and semantic equivalence CVI of 0.94. Pretesting was performed in 10 cancer patients, and the results revealed adequate content coverage and comprehensibility of the MSAS-Ch. A convenience sample of 370 patients undergoing cancer therapy or at the early post-treatment stage was recruited for psychometric evaluation. Confirmatory factor analysis confirmed the construct validity of the MSAS-Ch, with a good fit between the factor structure of the original version and our present sample data (goodness-of-fit indices all above 0.95). The internal consistency reliability of subscales and total MSAS-Ch was moderately high, with Cronbach alpha coefficients ranging from 0.79 to 0.87. The test-retest intraclass correlation results for the subscale and total MSAS-Ch ranged from 0.68 to 0.79. The subscale scores of MSAS-Ch were moderately correlated with the scores on various validation measurements that assessed psychological distress, pain, and health-related quality of life (r = 0.46-0.65, P < 0.01), confirming that they were measurements of similar constructs. The validity of the construct validity was also supported by comparing the MSAS-Ch scores for subpopulations that varied clinically. Inpatients and patients with poorer performance status scored higher on the MSAS-Ch subscale and total scores than outpatients and patients with higher performance status (P < 0.05). Our study shows that the MSAS-Ch has adequate psychometric properties of validity and reliability, and can be used to assess symptoms during cancer therapy and at the early post-treatment stage in Chinese-speaking patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-57
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2009


  • cancer
  • MSAS
  • Symptoms
  • validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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