Identification, description and appraisal of generic PROMs for primary care: a systematic review

BMC Fam Pract. 2018 Mar 15;19(1):41. doi: 10.1186/s12875-018-0722-9.


Background: Patients attend primary care with many types of problems and to achieve a range of possible outcomes. There is currently a lack of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) designed to capture these diverse outcomes. The objective of this systematic review was to identify, describe and appraise generic PROMs suitable for measuring outcomes from primary care.

Methods: We carried out a systematic Medline search, supplemented by other online and hand-searches. All potentially relevant PROMs were itemised in a long-list. Each PROM in the long-list which met inclusion criteria was included in a short-list. Short-listed PROMs were then described in terms of their measurement properties and construct, based on a previously published description of primary care outcome as three constructs: health status, health empowerment and health perceptions. PROMs were appraised in terms of extent of psychometric testing (extensive, moderate, low) and level of responsiveness (high, medium, low, unknown).

Results: More than 5000 abstracts were identified and screened to identify PROMs potentially suitable for measuring outcomes from primary care. 321 PROMs were long-listed, and twenty PROMs were catalogued in detail. There were five PROMs which measured change directly, without need for a baseline. Although these had less strong psychometric properties, they may be more responsive to change than PROMs which capture status at a point in time. No instruments provided coverage of all three constructs. Of the health status questionnaires, the most extensively tested was the SF-36. Of the health empowerment instruments, the PEI, PAM and heiQ provided the best combination of responsiveness and psychometric testing. The health perceptions instruments were all less responsive to change, and may measure a form of health perception which is difficult to shift in primary care.

Conclusions: This systematic review is the first of its kind to identify papers describing the development and validation of generic PROMs suitable for measuring outcomes from primary care. It identified that: 1) to date, there is no instrument which comprehensively covers the outcomes commonly sought in primary care, and 2) there are different benefits both to PROMs which measure status at a point in time, and PROMs which measure change directly.

Keywords: Generic PROMs; Patient-reported outcomes; Primary care; Questionnaires; Systematic review; Transitional PROMs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Psychometrics
  • Qualitative Research