Protocol for a type 2 hybrid effectiveness-implementation study expanding, implementing and evaluating electronic health record-integrated patient-reported symptom monitoring in a multisite cancer centre

BMJ Open. 2022 May 3;12(5):e059563. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-059563.


Introduction: Cancer symptom monitoring and management interventions can address concerns that may otherwise go undertreated. However, such programmes and their evaluations remain largely limited to trials versus healthcare systemwide applications. We previously developed and piloted an electronic patient-reported symptom and need assessment ('cPRO' for cancer patient-reported outcomes) within the electronic health record (EHR). This study will expand cPRO implementation to medical oncology clinics across a large healthcare system. We will conduct a formal evaluation via a stepped wedge trial with a type 2 hybrid effectiveness-implementation design.

Methods and analysis: Aim 1 comprises a mixed method evaluation of cPRO implementation. Adult outpatients will complete cPRO assessments (pain, fatigue, physical function, depression, anxiety and supportive care needs) before medical oncology visits. Results are available in the EHR; severe symptoms and endorsed needs trigger clinician notifications. We will track implementation strategies using the Longitudinal Implementation Strategy Tracking System. Aim 2 will evaluate cPRO's impact on patient and system outcomes over 12 months via (a) a quality improvement study (n=4000 cases) and (b) a human subjects substudy (n=1000 patients). Aim 2a will evaluate EHR-documented healthcare usage and patient satisfaction. In aim 2b, participating patients will complete patient-reported healthcare utilisation and quality, symptoms and health-related quality of life measures at baseline, 6 and 12 months. We will analyse data using generalised linear mixed models and estimate individual trajectories of patient-reported symptom scores at baseline, 6 and 12 months. Using growth mixture modelling, we will characterise the overall trajectories of each symptom. Aim 3 will identify cPRO implementation facilitators and barriers via mixed methods research gathering feedback from stakeholders. Patients (n=50) will participate in focus groups or interviews. Clinicians and administrators (n=40) will complete surveys to evaluate implementation. We will graphically depict longitudinal implementation survey results and code qualitative data using directed content analysis.

Ethics and dissemination: This study was approved by the Northwestern University Institutional Review Board (STU00207807). Findings will be disseminated via local and conference presentations and peer-reviewed journals.

Trial registration number: NCT04014751;

Keywords: information technology; mental health; oncology.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Associated data