Single-arm studies involving patient-reported outcome data in oncology: a literature review on current practice

Lancet Oncol. 2023 May;24(5):e197-e206. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(23)00110-9.


Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) are increasingly used in single-arm cancer studies. We reviewed 60 papers published between 2018 and 2021 of single-arm studies of cancer treatment with PRO data for current practice on design, analysis, reporting, and interpretation. We further examined the studies' handling of potential bias and how they informed decision making. Most studies (58; 97%) analysed PROs without stating a predefined research hypothesis. 13 (22%) of the 60 studies used a PRO as a primary or co-primary endpoint. Definitions of PRO objectives, study population, endpoints, and missing data strategies varied widely. 23 studies (38%) compared the PRO data with external information, most often by using a clinically important difference value; one study used a historical control group. Appropriateness of methods to handle missing data and intercurrent events (including death) were seldom discussed. Most studies (51; 85%) concluded that PRO results supported treatment. Conducting and reporting of PROs in cancer single-arm studies need standards and a critical discussion of statistical methods and possible biases. These findings will guide the Setting International Standards in Analysing Patient-Reported Outcomes and Quality of Life Data in Cancer Clinical Trials-Innovative Medicines Initiative (SISAQOL-IMI) in developing recommendations for the use of PRO-measures in single-arm studies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Quality of Life*
  • Research Design