Purpose: Although health-related quality of life (HRQL) is increasingly assessed in randomized controlled trials (RCTs), HRQL findings are not always incorporated into clinical decision making. We examined the current perspectives of oncologists on the use of HRQL findings from RCTs, and variation of these perspectives between countries and specialties.
Methods: A cross-sectional e-survey of oncologist members of the NCIC Clinical Trials Group, the United Kingdom National Cancer Research Institute Clinical Studies Groups, and the Australia/New Zealand cancer clinical trials network was conducted. Respondents reported their perceptions of the usefulness of RCT HRQL outcomes for informing practice, their use of HRQL findings in practice, barriers/facilitators to this use, and preferences for HRQL data presentation in RCT publications. Chi-square tests compared responses between countries and specialties.
Results: A total of 396 oncologists participated (estimated response rate: 30%). The most frequently reported specialties were medical (46%) and radiation (37%) oncology. HRQL findings from RCTs were reported as useful (73%), but were infrequently used to guide clinical decisions with patients. Perceived barriers were lack of time (67%) and understanding (57%), and concerns about generalizability of results (68%). Identified facilitators included joint publication of HRQL/clinical outcomes (96%) and summary of clinical implications of HRQL findings in RCT publications (76%). Use of HRQL findings, perceived barriers/facilitators, and presentation preferences did not differ by country or specialty.
Conclusions: Oncologists support HRQL findings from RCTs, but perceive important barriers to their use in clinical decision making, regardless of country or specialty. Combined, clear reporting of HRQL/clinical data may facilitate their clinical application.