Peri-transfusion quality-of-life assessment for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes

Transfusion. 2021 Oct;61(10):2830-2836. doi: 10.1111/trf.16584. Epub 2021 Jul 12.


Background: Many patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) receive red cell transfusions to relieve symptoms associated with anemia, with transfusions triggered by hemoglobin level. It is not known if patients' quality of life (QOL) improves after transfusion, nor if peri-transfusion QOL assessment (PTQA) can guide future transfusion decisions.

Study design and methods: We conducted a prospective pilot study of adults with MDS at three centers. Participants, who had to have hemoglobin ≥7.5, completed an MDS-specific measure of QOL (the Quality of Life in Myelodysplasia Scale, [QUALMS]) 1 day before and 7 days after red cell transfusion. A report was sent to each patient and provider before the next transfusion opportunity, indicating whether there were clinically significant changes in QOL. We assessed the proportion of patients experiencing changes in QOL, and with a follow-up questionnaire, whether they perceived their PTQA data were used for future transfusion decisions.

Results: From 2018 to 2020, 62 patients enrolled (mean age 73 years) and 37 completed both pre- and post-transfusion QOL assessments. Of these, 35% experienced a clinically significant increase in QUALMS score 7 days after transfusion; 46% no change; and 19% a decrease. Among those completing the follow-up questionnaire, 23% reported that PTQA results were discussed by their provider when considering repeat transfusion.

Conclusions: These data suggest PTQA is feasible for patients with MDS. Moreover, while helpful for some, for many others, red cell transfusion may not achieve its intended goal of improving QOL. PTQA offers a strategy to inform shared decision-making regarding red cell transfusion.

Keywords: RBC transfusion; transfusion practices (oncology-hematology).