Bringing PROMIS to practice: brief and precise symptom screening in ambulatory cancer care

Cancer. 2015 Mar 15;121(6):927-34. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29104. Epub 2014 Nov 6.


Background: Supportive oncology practice can be enhanced by the integration of a brief and validated electronic patient-reported outcome assessment into the electronic health record (EHR) and clinical workflow.

Methods: Six hundred thirty-six women receiving gynecologic oncology outpatient care received instructions to complete clinical assessments through Epic MyChart, an EHR patient communication portal. Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) computer adaptive tests (CATs) were administered to assess fatigue, pain interference, physical function, depression, and anxiety. Checklists identified psychosocial concerns, informational and nutritional needs, and risk factors for inadequate nutrition. Assessment results, including PROMIS T scores with documented severity thresholds, were immediately populated in the EHR. Clinicians were notified of clinically elevated symptoms through EHR messages. EHR integration was designed to provide automated triage to social work providers for psychosocial concerns, to health educators for information, and to dietitians for nutrition-related concerns.

Results: Four thousand forty-two MyChart messages sent, and 3203 (79%) were reviewed by patients. The assessment was started by 1493 patients (37%), and once they started, 93% (1386 patients) completed the assessment. According to first assessments only, 49.8% of the patients who reviewed the MyChart message completed the assessment. Mean PROMIS CAT T scores indicated a lower level of physical function and elevated anxiety in comparison with the general population. Fatigue, pain, and depression scores were comparable to those of the general population. Impaired physical functioning was the most common basis for clinical alerts and occurred in 4% of the patients.

Conclusions: PROMIS CATs were used to measure common cancer symptoms in routine oncology outpatient care. Immediate EHR integration facilitated the use of symptom reporting as the basis for referral to psychosocial and supportive care.

Keywords: eHealth; outcomes measurement; patient-reported outcomes; psychosocial care; symptom management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care / methods*
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / physiopathology*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / methods
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult