Purpose: Cancer patients frequently suffer from multiple symptoms often impairing functional status and health-related quality of life (HRQOL). A comprehensive assessment including patient-reported outcomes (PROs) is recommended to enable individualized supportive care. However, PRO assessments are still not part of routine clinical practice. Therefore, this project aimed to compile an item pool from validated assessment instruments to facilitate the use of PROs for clinical decision-making in oncology clinics.
Methods: This qualitative dominant mixed-method cross-sectional exploratory study was carried out in four centers and comprised two stages. Stage I: Six interdisciplinary focus groups were conducted to choose questionnaires meeting particular clinical requirements. Stage II: Adult patients with heterogeneous cancer diagnoses, receiving in- or out-patient treatment were asked to participate and complete the chosen questionnaires (participation 71/74). Resulting PROs were compared with clinical records. Health care professionals (HCPs) and patients rated the usefulness for routine clinical practice.
Results: The European Organisation of Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C30 and Distress Thermometer were chosen for screening and M.D. Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI) and EORTC single items for monitoring. Comparison of n = 88 PRO assessments with clinical records showed consistent documentation of side effects like fever and emesis. Symptoms like fatigue, sadness, or sleep disturbance were not documented regularly in the medical records but captured by PRO assessments. Patients and HCPs judged the chosen questionnaires and electronic data collection as useful.
Conclusions: Future studies should examine how PROs can complement or substitute routine documentation in order to achieve standardized assessment and documentation during the treatment process in different settings and examine possible benefits for patients.
Keywords: Cancer; Monitoring; Patient-reported outcomes; Quality of life; Screening; Supportive therapy.