Importance: Facial paralysis leads to both aesthetic and functional deficits placing patients at risk for sociopsychological sequelae and social impairment. Objective: To examine the effect of facial paralysis and synkinesis on social impairment and quality of life (QOL). Design, Setting, and Participants: This is a cross-sectional study at a tertiary care medical center. Adults with a history of facial palsy were broadly categorized by self-reported degree of facial paralysis and synkinesis. Main Outcomes and Measures: Clinical demographic information, self-reported degrees of facial paralysis and synkinesis, and facial palsy-specific QOL as measured by the Facial Clinimetric Evaluation (FaCE) Scale and the Synkinesis Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) were collected. FaCE and SAQ scales were evaluated as predictors of social impairment outcomes, as measured by the Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation-II (BFNE-II), the Social Anxiety Questionnaire (SAQ-A30), and Social Avoidance and Distress (SAD) scales, in addition to health utility scores from the Short-Form 6D (SF-6D). Results: Fifty-six participants with facial palsy were included (30% male; average age: 56.4 [standard deviation (SD): 15] years). Sixty-three percent of participants reported history of Bell's palsy; 37% reported other etiologies. Forty-seven percent of participants reported moderate or severe facial impairment and 46% of participants reported involuntary facial movement. Participants with moderate or severe facial impairment exhibited increased BFNE-II (p = 0.03), SAQ-A30 (p = 0.04), and SAD (p < 0.01) scores and lower health valuation on SF-6D (p = 0.04). FaCE scores moderately correlated with lower health valuation (r = 0.39, p < 0.01), and moderately and inversely correlated with SAD (r = -0.33, p = 0.01) and BFNE-II (r = -0.35, p < 0.01) scores. Furthermore, worsening FaCE scores predicted worsening SAQ (p < 0.01), SAD (p = 0.01), BFNE-II (p < 0.01), and SF-6D (p < 0.01) scores. Worse degrees of synkinesis correlated with higher BFNE-II scores (r = 0.38, p < 0.01) and worsening SAQ scores predicted worsening FaCE (p < 0.01) and BFNE-II (p < 0.01) scores. Females demonstrated significantly worse BFNE-II scores (p = 0.04) when compared with men, and female gender significantly predicted worse FaCE scores (p < 0.01). Seventy-one percent of women with self-reported moderate or severe facial impairment met criteria for social anxiety, as did 67% of women with self-reported moderate or severe synkinesis. Conclusions and Relevance: Individuals with self-reported moderate or severe facial impairment exhibit a higher degree of social impairment and poorer health valuation than those with no or mild facial impairment. Facial palsy-specific QOL moderately and inversely correlated with social impairment and moderately correlated with health valuation. Our results indicate that FaCE scores may be used as a predictor of SAD, BFNE-II, and SF-6D scores and that facial palsy QOL and its relationship with social impairment should be considered when treating patients with a history of facial palsy.
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