Aim: To evaluate the views of clinicians and researchers on their use of outcome measures and which questions are most important in palliative and end-of-life care.
Methods: Online survey of professionals working in clinical care, clinical audit and research in palliative care across Europe and Africa identified through national and international associations and databases. Questions focused on measures used, reasons and which questions were important in two commonly used multidimensional measures, the Palliative care Outcome Scale (POS) and the Support Team Assessment Schedule (STAS).
Results: The overall completion rate was 59% (392/663). Three outcome measures were commonly used by over one in four respondents for clinical practice and over one in 10 for research: the Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS), followed by the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) and the POS. Measures were used twice as often in clinical practice as in research. The main uses were similar: assessing patients' symptoms/needs (88% and 85% of POS and STAS users, respectively), monitoring changes (62%, 58%), evaluating care (61%, 48%) and assessing family needs (59%, 60%). Respondents rated the most important questions as pain, symptoms, emotional and family aspects. There were no differences in the choice of the most important questions between doctors and nurses or between researchers and clinicians.
Conclusions: In palliative care, outcome measures often used in clinical practice are also often used in research. Questions relating to pain, symptoms, emotional needs and family concerns are consistently considered the most useful and important in palliative patient reported outcome measures (PROMs).