Objective: The purpose of this paper is to summarize the best evidence regarding the impact of providing patient-reported outcomes (PRO) information to health care professionals in daily clinical practice.
Methods: Systematic review of randomized clinical trials (Medline, Cochrane Library; reference lists of previous systematic reviews; and requests to authors and experts in the field).
Results: Out of 1,861 identified references published between 1978 and 2007, 34 articles corresponding to 28 original studies proved eligible. Most trials (19) were conducted in primary care settings performed in the USA (21) and assessed adult patients (25). Information provided to professionals included generic health status (10), mental health (14), and other (6). Most studies suffered from methodologic limitations, including analysis that did not correspond with the unit of allocation. In most trials, the impact of PRO was limited. Fifteen of 23 studies (65%) measuring process of care observed at least one significant result favoring the intervention, as did eight of 17 (47%) that measured outcomes of care.
Conclusions: Methodological concerns limit the strength of inference regarding the impact of providing PRO information to clinicians. Results suggest great heterogeneity of impact; contexts and interventions that will yield important benefits remain to be clearly defined.