Background: Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is highly prevalent in Western countries. Because the majority of patients do not present with endoscopic abnormalities, the assessment of the symptom severity and quality of life, and their response to treatment, has become increasingly important. Self-assessed symptom questionnaires are now key instruments in clinical trials. Aim: To evaluate the validity of available GERD measurement tools. Methods: An ideal GERD symptom assessment instrument, suitable as a primary end-point for clinical trials, should possess the following characteristics: (i) be sensitive in patients with GERD; (ii) cover the frequency and intensity of typical and atypical GERD symptoms; (iii) be multidimensional (cover all symptom dimensions); (iv) have proven psychometric properties (validity, reliability and responsiveness); (v) be practical and economical; (vi) be self-assessed; (vii) use ‘word pictures’ which are easy to understand for patients; (viii) respond rapidly to changes (responsiveness over short time intervals); (ix) be used daily to assess changes during and after therapy; and (x) be valid in different languages for international use. Results: A literature review revealed five scales that met some of the above characteristics, but did not fulfil all criteria. Conclusion: There is a need for a new evaluative tool for the assessment of GERD symptoms and their response to therapy.

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