Evaluation by electronic patient-reported outcomes of cancer survivors' needs and the efficacy of inpatient cancer rehabilitation in different tumor entities

Support Care Cancer. 2021 Oct;29(10):5853-5864. doi: 10.1007/s00520-021-06123-x. Epub 2021 Mar 23.


Objective: We investigated cancer survivors' health-related quality of life (HRQOL), specific deficiencies related to underlying disease or treatment, and benefits of rehabilitation in a large variety of cancer entities.

Patients and methods: Electronic patient-reported outcomes were performed as clinical routine procedures. Cancer survivors underwent a 3-week multidisciplinary inpatient rehabilitation. Twenty-one different cancer entities were analyzed separately before (T0) and by the end (T1) of rehabilitation. HRQOL, symptoms, and functions were assessed with EORTC-QLQ-C30 questionnaire, psychological distress with Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).

Results: Four thousand four hundred one of 5912 rehabilitants were evaluable, having completed both questionnaires at T0 and T1. All function mean scores and HRQOL were lower than in Austrian normal population, while levels of anxiety, depression, and all symptom scores were higher. HRQOL was particularly low in lung, liver, and bladder cancer patients. Maximum anxiety levels were observed in patients with breast and thyroid cancer patients, the highest levels of depression in liver and brain cancer patients. Fatigue was severe in patients with lung, liver, esophageal, bladder cancer, and myeloma patients. Mean scores were also high for pain and insomnia. In the group of all rehabilitants, a highly significant improvement of global HRQOL, anxiety, depression, and all function and symptom scores was observed at T1 (p < 0.001). We noted significant improvement of HRQOL, anxiety, depression, fatigue, emotional, social, role, and physical functions in each cancer entity with medium to large effect sizes. Other recorded symptoms were reduced in the majority of cancers.

Conclusion: Rehabilitation effectively improves psychological distress and HRQOL as a part of treatment for various cancers.

Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Fatigue; Psycho-oncology; Quality of life; Return to work.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Brain Neoplasms*
  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Electronics
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires