Do perceptions of adverse events differ between patients and physicians? Findings from a randomized, controlled trial of radical treatment for prostate cancer

J Urol. 2010 Aug;184(2):525-31. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2010.04.009. Epub 2010 Jun 17.


Purpose: Previous cross-sectional studies show considerable discrepancies between patient and physician ratings of adverse events after prostate cancer treatment. We used data from a randomized, controlled trial to examine such discrepancies.

Material and methods: The Scandinavian Prostate Cancer Groups Study 7 randomized men with locally advanced prostate cancer to antiandrogen monotherapy or to the same hormone treatment combined with external beam radiotherapy after 3 months of total androgen blockade. We selected a subsample of 333 men with valid ratings at baseline, and at 12 and 24-month followup for this prospective substudy. We also examined a cross-sectional sample of 305 men at the end of radiotherapy. We compared patient and physician ratings of frequency of daytime and nighttime urination, urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, bowel problems, nausea/vomiting, breast tenderness and gynecomastia.

Results: Perfect agreement between patient and physician ratings was observed in 70% to 100% of cases at baseline, in 73% to 98% at 12 months and in 65% to 97% at 24 months. There were 1% to 20% changes in perfect agreement with time. With patient ratings as the gold standard physicians more often underrated than overrated adverse events, except bowel problems, which were overrated at all posttreatment points.

Conclusions: In a randomized, controlled trial of external beam radiotherapy and hormone manipulation physicians recorded pelvis related adverse events in acceptable accordance with their patients with prostate cancer. The oncologist tendency to overestimate bowel problems after radiotherapy needs further investigation. Our positive findings from a formal trial should not be transferred to daily clinical practice without further studies of discrepancies in routine clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patients
  • Physicians
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatectomy / adverse effects*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic