General practitioners' views on use of patient reported outcome measures in primary care: a cross-sectional survey and qualitative study

BMC Fam Pract. 2020 Jan 24;21(1):14. doi: 10.1186/s12875-019-1077-6.


Background: Patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) are increasingly used to assess impact of disease and treatment on quality of life and symptoms; however, their use in primary care is fragmented. We aimed to understand how PROMs are currently being used in primary care, the barriers and facilitators of this use and if appropriate how it might be optimised.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey and semi-structured interviews among general practitioners (GPs) in England. GPs' opinions were explored using an electronic, self-completed questionnaire disseminated to 100 GPs via an online doctors' community and semi-structured qualitative interviews with 25 GPs.

Results: Most GPs surveyed (77/100; 77%) reported using one or more PROM, primarily to aid clinical management (n = 66) or as screening/diagnostic tools (n = 62). Qualitative interviews highlighted challenges in identifying and selecting PROMs; however, some GPs valued PROMs for shared decision making and to direct patient discussions. The interviews identified key barriers to PROM use including: time constraints; insufficient knowledge; lack of integration into clinical systems; and PROMs being mandated without consultation or explanation. Evidence of the benefit of PROMs is required to promote uptake and use of PROMs in primary care.

Conclusion: Implementation of PROMs in primary care requires integration with clinical systems, a bottom-up approach to PROM selection and system design involving meaningful consultation with patients and primary care clinicians and training/support for use.

Keywords: General practitioners; Patient reported outcome measures (PROMs); Primary care; Qualitative; Survey.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making, Shared
  • England
  • Female
  • General Practitioners*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires