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J Support Oncol. 2012 Jul-Aug;10(4):143-8. doi: 10.1016/j.suponc.2012.02.002. Epub 2012 May 18.

What can I do? Recommendations for responding to issues identified by patient-reported outcomes assessments used in clinical practice.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


There is increased interest in using patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures in routine clinical practice to improve patient management. The effectiveness of this intervention may be facilitated by providing suggestions to clinicians on how to address issues identified by the PROs. We sought to develop recommendations for clinicians on how to respond to issues covered by common cancer PRO questionnaires, including functional problems (eg, physical, social, emotional), symptoms (eg, diarrhea, pain), and needs (eg, patient care and support, information). The recommendations would be incorporated into a Web-based system for PRO assessment and reporting in use at our large, academic cancer center. To develop the recommendations, we conducted a multiphase, multidisciplinary, consensus process. We reviewed the literature and conducted one-on-one interviews with experts from various disciplines. Experts included medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses, an internist, a palliative care specialist, an outcomes researcher, a chaplain, a social worker, and patient advocates. These interviews elicited the experts' recommendations for addressing problems in common PRO domains. Finally, we held a panel meeting attended by all the experts to attain consensus on the recommendations. The final consensus suggestions recommend further assessment of the problem as a first step. Treatment suggestions range from medication adjustments to lifestyle modifications to referrals to other disciplines. Further research will test whether clinicians find these suggestions useful for patient management.

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