Systematic Review of Patient-Reported Outcome Measures in Graft-versus-Host Disease

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2020 May;26(5):e113-e127. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2020.01.022. Epub 2020 Feb 3.


Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. These patients face a unique challenge due to the complexity of GVHD and the toxicity of treatments received. GVHD has significant impact on quality of life (QOL), but this is not routinely evaluated formally. Despite the availability of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) to assess QOL, there is currently no consensus regarding the optimal PROMs that should be used to evaluate the impact of GVHD. We undertook a systematic review to determine the current evidence for the use of PROMs in assessment of QOL, symptom burden, and disease severity of patients with GVHD. A comprehensive systematic review based on the COSMIN guidelines was conducted to identify studies using PROMs (including those for QOL and symptom burden) in acute and chronic GVHD (cGVHD) patients. The following databases were searched: OVID Medline, AMED, CINAHL, Embase, PROQOLID, ProQuest, PsychINFO, and Social Sciences Citation Index from inception to May 2018. Hand searches updated the search to December 2018. Articles were screened by 2 independent reviewers, with discrepancies resolved by a third independent reviewer. Included articles were critically appraised using the COSMIN Risk of Bias tool, and relevant data on measurement properties for the included PROMs were extracted from within the target population. A total of 4545 articles were identified, and 64 articles reporting on 27 PROMs were included in this review. PROMs were separated into 5 groups; generic patient-reported measures (n = 7), cancer-specific measures (n = 4), bone marrow transplant-specific measures (n = 2), cGVHD-specific measures (n = 4), and dimension-specific measures (n = 10). Three PROMs (Human Activity Profile, Lee Symptom Scale, National Institutes of Health Eleven Point Scale) had evidence to support strong reliability (including internal consistency), responsiveness, and aspects of validity within the cGVHD population. Only 5 included PROMs were used in patients with acute GVHD. This review summarizes the current evidence regarding the use of 27 included PROMs in the context of GVHD. The choice of the most optimal PROM depends on the clinical or research context of use. Future research should comprehensively validate these tools in the GVHD population, including the testing and possible development of a PROM for use in acute GVHD, which remains a current critical gap in the existing literature.

Keywords: Allogenic stem cell transplant; GVHD; Graft-versus-host disease; PROMs; Patient-reported outcome measures.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Graft vs Host Disease* / etiology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Quality of Life
  • Reproducibility of Results