Patient-reported outcomes in randomised controlled trials of gynaecological cancers: investigating methodological quality and impact on clinical decision-making

Eur J Cancer. 2014 Jul;50(11):1925-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2014.04.005. Epub 2014 May 10.


Aim: The aim for this study is to investigate the methodological quality and potential impact on clinical decision making of patient reported outcome (PRO) assessment in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in the gynaecological cancer sites.

Methods: A systematic review identified RCTs published between January 2004 and June 2012. Relevant studies were evaluated using a pre-determined extraction form which included: (1) Trial demographics and clinical and PRO characteristics; (2) level of PRO reporting and (3) bias, assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. All studies were additionally analysed in relation to their relevance in supporting clinical decision making.

Results: Fifty RCTs enrolling 24,991 patients were identified. In eight RCTs (16%) a PRO was the primary end-point. Twenty-one studies (42%) were carried out in a multi-national context. Where statistically significant PRO differences between treatments were found, it related in most cases to both symptoms and domains other than symptoms (n=17, 57%). The majority of studies (n=42, 84%) did not mention the mode of administration nor the methods of collecting PRO data. Statistical approaches for dealing with missing data were only explicitly mentioned in nine RCTs (18%). Sixteen RCTs (32%) were considered to be of high-quality and thus able to inform clinical decision making. Higher-quality PRO studies were generally associated with RCTs that were at a low risk of bias.

Conclusion: This study showed that RCTs with PROs were generally well designed and conducted. In a third the information was very informative to fully understand the pros and cons of PROs treatment decision-making.

Keywords: Clinical decision-making; Clinical trials; Gynaecologic cancer; Patient-reported outcomes; Quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Patient Outcome Assessment*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / standards*
  • Self Report
  • Treatment Outcome