Priorities of head and neck cancer patients: a patient survey based on the brief ICF core set for HNC

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2013 Nov;270(12):3133-42. doi: 10.1007/s00405-013-2446-8. Epub 2013 Mar 31.


The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health Core Set for Head and Neck Cancer (ICF-HNC) covers the typical spectrum of problems in functioning experienced by patients with head and neck cancer (HNC). The major goal of the present work was to evaluate patients' priorities using the brief ICF-HNC as a starting point. A priorities assessment checklist consisting of 15 statements was created based on the 14 validated categories of the brief ICF-HNC. In a cross-sectional study, patients were requested to select up to 5 items that were especially important to them. The checklist was sent by mail to 465 patients at different time points of cancer follow-up and handed out to 56 patients with recent HNC diagnosis. Altogether 300 (64.51 %) patients returned the checklist. The top priority of our sample was "I want to survive the cancer", followed by "I want that all the expenses for cancer treatment, cancer care and any additional follow-up treatments be covered by my health insurance or by the welfare system", "I want to be able to continue performing all daily life tasks well", "I want to have trusting relationships with my doctors, nurses and therapists" and "I want to be able to speak clearly". Although survival was, as expected, the top priority for patients enrolled in the study, we show that the weight given to survival and further symptoms or daily life activities meaningfully changes when the biopsychosocial perspective proposed in the ICF is adopted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy
  • Health Priorities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Quality of Life*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Surveys and Questionnaires