Background and aim: There is a lack of instruments that focus on the specific health-related quality of life (HRQOL) issues that affect older people with cancer. The aim of this study was to develop a HRQOL questionnaire module to supplement the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) core questionnaire, the EORTC QLQ-C30 for older (>70years) patients with cancer.
Methods: Phases 1-3 were conducted in seven countries following modified EORTC Quality of Life Group guidelines for module development. Phase 1: potentially relevant issues were identified by a systematic literature review, a questionnaire survey of 17 multi-disciplinary health professionals and two rounds of qualitative interviews. The first round included 9 patients aged >70. The second round was a comparative series of interviews with 49 patients >70years with a range of cancer diagnoses and 40 patients aged 50-69years matched for gender and disease site. In Phase 2 the issues were formulated into a long provisional item list. This was administered in Phase 3 together with the QLQ-C30 to two further groups of cancer patients aged >70 (n=97) or 50-69years (n=85) to determine the importance, relevance and acceptability of each item. Redundant and duplicate items were removed; issues specific to the older group were selected for the final questionnaire.
Results: In Phase 1, 75 issues were identified. These were reduced in Phase 2 to create a 45 item provisional list. Phase 3 testing of the provisional list led to the selection of 15 items with good range of response, high scores of importance and relevance in the older patients. This resulted in the EORTC QLQ-ELD15, containing five conceptually coherent scales (functional independence, relationships with family and friends, worries about the future, autonomy and burden of illness).
Conclusion: The EORTC QLQ-ELD15 in combination with the EORTC QLQ-C30 is ready for large-scale validation studies, and will assess HRQOL issues of most relevance and concern for older people with cancer across a wide range of cancer sites and treatment stages.
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