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Eur J Cancer. 2006 May;42(8):1159-66. Epub 2006 Apr 18.

Assessing health-related quality of life in palliative care: comparing patient and physician assessments.

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The Research Unit, Department of Palliative Medicine, Bispebjerg Hospital, Bispebjerg bakke 23, Opgang 20d, DK-2400 Copenhagen NV, Denmark.


It is often difficult to recruit patients for palliative care studies and severe attrition must be expected resulting in biased findings. This may be avoided if equivalent information could be obtained from sources other than the patients. Therefore, we investigated whether physician assessments can be used to evaluate the patients' health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Patient and physician assessments of the patients' HRQOL were obtained once a week for up to 13 weeks using EORTC QLQ-C30 items. The agreement between patients and physicians at first contact (N=115) and for the following 13 weeks combined (total N=263) was investigated. Significant differences between patient and physician assessments were observed for all HRQOL domains assessed. Physicians reported patients to have fewer problems/symptoms than patients did for all HRQOL domains except for physical and social functioning. The agreement between patients and physicians was poor. Using physician assessments may bias findings and cannot be recommended as a substitute for patient self-assessment in palliative care.

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