This study examined differences in the assessment of symptoms and quality of life (QoL) between patients with advanced cancer living at home and their specialist palliative care nurses. Nurses introduced a recently validated outcome measure, the Palliative Care Outcome Scale (POS), to patients referred to their hospice at their first or second home visit. The POS has two components: a patient questionnaire mirrored almost exactly by a staff questionnaire, which are both completed independently. The POS contains 10 core questions examining aspects of symptom control and QoL. Of the 338 patients referred during the study period, 174 (51%) were eligible for inclusion in the study. Of these, 55 (32%) pairs of patient and nurse questionnaires were returned and suitable for assessment. Not all questionnaires were returned by nurse and patient to form a matched pair. There was good agreement and correlation between patients and nurses in the assessment of pain and symptom control. However, important differences were found in other areas explored including anxiety levels of patients and their families, personal thoughts, practical matters and information received. The study confirms the importance of evaluating the needs, feelings and concerns of patients with advanced cancer cared for at home and highlights both the significance and necessity of the patient's contribution to any such assessment.