Both cancer patients and their medical teams found it beneficial when patients shared their symptoms in real time using a web- or telephone-based reporting system, according to a national multi-institutional study.
Ethan Basch, MD, MSc, at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and his colleagues reported in the journal JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics findings from the PRO-TECT trial, which is evaluating the use of electronic patient-reported outcomes (ePROs) among adults receiving outpatient treatment for advanced and metastatic cancers.
“Our prior research showed that using a web-based system for patients to self-report symptoms to their cancer care team improves patient satisfaction, quality of life, physical function, reduces emergency room visits and lengthens survival,” said Basch, director of UNC Lineberger’s Cancer Outcomes Research Program and the Richard M. Goldberg Distinguished Professor and chief of oncology at the UNC School of Medicine. “However, it has not been clear whether this approach could be widely used in cancer practices across the U.S. or be seen as useful or valuable by patients and providers. It is essential with any strategy for improving care to make sure that people will actually use it and find it valuable.”
In the new study, the researchers conducted a cluster-randomized controlled study at 52 community-based oncology practices across the United States. Half of the practices were assigned to use ePROs as part of the standard of care.
Participants in the study’s intervention arm were prompted every week for a year to report their symptoms and well-being. This involved using a website or an automated telephone program to answer a series of questions about their symptoms, such as pain, nausea and depression, as well as their physical functioning and financial health. The responses had a pre-assigned value on a five-point scale. When