Objective: To examine the effects of a computer-assisted, interactive tailored patient assessment (ITPA) tool in oncology practice on: documented patient care, symptom distress, and patients' need for symptom management support during treatment and rehabilitation.
Design and methods: For this repeated measures clinical trial at a university hospital in Norway, 145 patients starting treatment for leukemia or lymphoma were randomly assigned to either an intervention (n=75) or control group (n=70). Both groups used the ITPA for symptom assessments prior to inpatient and outpatient visits for up to one year. The assessment summary, which displayed patients' self-reported symptoms, problems, and distress in rank-order of the patient's need for support, was provided to physicians and nurses in the intervention group only but not in the control group.
Results: Significantly more symptoms were addressed in the intervention group patient charts versus those of the control group. Symptom distress in the intervention group decreased significantly over time in 11 (58%) of 19 symptom/problem categories versus 2 (10%) for the control group. Need for symptom management support over time also decreased significantly more for the intervention group than the control group in 13 (68%) symptom categories.
Conclusion: This is the first study to show that an ITPA used in an interdisciplinary oncology practice can significantly improve patient-centered care and patient outcomes, including reduced symptom distress and reduced need for symptom management support.