Patient-reported outcomes in clinical trials of rare diseases

J Gen Intern Med. 2014 Aug;29 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):S801-3. doi: 10.1007/s11606-014-2892-z.


The science of measuring patient-reported outcomes (PROs) has advanced substantially in recent decades, allowing evaluation of how patients feel and function in clinical research. Assessment of the patient experience in populations with rare diseases can be successfully achieved using PRO measures when careful planning and rigorous methods are employed. A number of challenges exist when designing and implementing PRO analyses in rare disease contexts, including heterogeneity of outcomes, availability of suitable measures, recruitment, and selection of appropriate data collection methods. Strategies to address these exist and have been employed in past clinical research, particularly in pediatric populations. PRO assessments in rare disease clinical trials have been particularly successful through partnerships between investigators, PRO methodologists, and patient organizations. The overall goal of PRO measurement is to understand the patient experience and it provides an essential part of evaluating the impact of disease and treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Patient Outcome Assessment*
  • Rare Diseases / therapy*