Rationale, aims and objectives: Regular use of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) by health care providers in their routine practice may help to improve the quality of care, but more evidence is needed before routine use of PROMs can be recommended. A structured review was undertaken to examine whether and how regular use of PROMs might improve routine practice.
Methods: A systematic search of Medline accessed through Webspirs Silverplatter was undertaken for the years 1976-2004. Controlled trials in English evaluating the impact of clinical use of PROMs on routine practice were included. Data regarding study design, characteristics of PROMs feedback, patient populations and study results were extracted by three reviewers.
Results: Feedback of PROMs results to health care providers appears to have a substantial impact on some processes of care, particularly on diagnosis of mental health conditions. However, the impact on patient health status is less consistent. Most of the published studies evaluated PROMs as a one-off screening technology and measured only provider behaviours and patient health outcomes.
Conclusions: The pattern of results suggests a general lack of clarity in the field, especially regarding appropriate goals for PROMs and the mechanisms by which they might achieve them. To fully evaluate their role in routine practice, studies need to use PROMs that capture issues of importance to patients and to measure impacts relating to the patient-provider relationship and patient contributions to their well-being. Until studies evaluate PROMs as a means facilitate patient-centred care, their full potential in clinical practice will remain unknown.