Asking the right questions: investigating needs assessments and health-related quality-of-life questionnaires for use in oncology clinical practice

Support Care Cancer. 2007 Sep;15(9):1075-85. doi: 10.1007/s00520-007-0223-1. Epub 2007 Feb 21.


Goals of work: Questionnaires used in oncology practice for individual patient management need to address issues patients find important and want help with and issues cancer center health professionals can address. We investigated the item content from two health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) questionnaires and two needs assessments for this purpose.

Patients and methods: In this preliminary study, 61 cancer patients and 19 cancer center health professionals rated the item content from the EORTC-QLQ-C30, FACT-G, Supportive Care Needs Survey-34 (SCNS), and Kingston Needs Assessment--Cancer. Patients rated each item's importance and whether they wanted help with it; health professionals rated each item's importance and whether they felt able to help patients address it. Patients and health professionals also reported their overall questionnaire preference.

Main results: Patients rated information about treatments (options, benefits, side effects) and care coordination as the most important issues and those for which they most wanted help from their health professionals. Health professionals rated pain and other symptom/side effect items as most important to patients and those for which they were most able to help. Findings were consistent across tumor type and treatment status. Patients had an overall preference for the SCNS. Health professionals had no clear questionnaire preference.

Conclusions: This preliminary study suggests that the issues patients most want help with may not be the issues that health professionals feel most able to address. If these findings are confirmed in more representative samples, interventions may be needed to assist health professionals in managing cancer patients' HRQOL issues and needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Neoplasms*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*