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J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2010 Jul-Aug;17(4):403-10. doi: 10.1136/jamia.2010.005660.

Effects of a computer-supported interactive tailored patient assessment tool on patient care, symptom distress, and patients' need for symptom management support: a randomized clinical trial.

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  • 1Center for Shared Decision Making and Nursing Research, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.



To examine the effects of a computer-assisted, interactive tailored patient assessment (ITPA) tool in oncology practice on: documented patient care, symptom distress, and patients' need for symptom management support during treatment and rehabilitation.


For this repeated measures clinical trial at a university hospital in Norway, 145 patients starting treatment for leukemia or lymphoma were randomly assigned to either an intervention (n=75) or control group (n=70). Both groups used the ITPA for symptom assessments prior to inpatient and outpatient visits for up to one year. The assessment summary, which displayed patients' self-reported symptoms, problems, and distress in rank-order of the patient's need for support, was provided to physicians and nurses in the intervention group only but not in the control group.


Significantly more symptoms were addressed in the intervention group patient charts versus those of the control group. Symptom distress in the intervention group decreased significantly over time in 11 (58%) of 19 symptom/problem categories versus 2 (10%) for the control group. Need for symptom management support over time also decreased significantly more for the intervention group than the control group in 13 (68%) symptom categories.


This is the first study to show that an ITPA used in an interdisciplinary oncology practice can significantly improve patient-centered care and patient outcomes, including reduced symptom distress and reduced need for symptom management support.

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