Performance status score: do patients and their oncologists agree?

Br J Cancer. 2003 Sep 15;89(6):1022-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6601231.


Oncologists traditionally assess their patients' ECOG performance status (PS), and few studies have evaluated the accuracy of these assessments. In this study, 101 patients attending a rapid access clinic at Papworth Hospital with a diagnosis of lung cancer were asked to assess their own ECOG PS score on a scale between 0 and 4. Patients' scores were compared to the PS assessment of them made by their oncologists. Of 98 patients with primary non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), weighted kappa statistics showed PS score agreement between patient and oncologist of 0.45. Both patient- and oncologist-assessed scores reflected survival duration (in NSCLC and SCLC) as well as disease stage (in NSCLC), with oncologist-assessed scores being only marginally more predictive of survival. There was no sex difference in patient assessment of PS scores, but oncologists scored female patients more pessimistically than males. This study showed that, with few exceptions, patients and oncologists assessed PS scores similarly. Although oncologists should continue to score PS objectively, it may benefit their clinical practice to involve their patients in these assessments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / psychology
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / psychology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Karnofsky Performance Status / standards*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / psychology
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician's Role*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors