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Better Understanding of Quality of Life Assessments

Intent on incorporating the patient’s voice into cancer research and care, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center investigators have sought out the best //practices, promising techniques and novel applications for quality of life (QOL) assessment. Their findings were published as a monograph in two issues of Current Problems in Cancer.

QOL assessments capture the patient's perspective of how their physical, psychological, emotional, social and spiritual well-being are affected by their disease and treatment.

“Patients with cancer face many quality of life challenges, and many efforts are taken to alleviate those burdens,” says Jeff Sloan, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic oncology researcher. “We have found that clinicians collect a wide variety of QOL data and use it in numerous ways; but there is a great degree of variability. We hope our discussions will further the understanding of the QOL assessment and be used to improve patient care.”

Dr. Sloan says that the team chose to study QOL assessments with the intent of moving towards standardization recommendations. He says that because no standard criteria existed, and general understanding remains vague, the need was obvious. “Without a complete understanding of the value of QOL data, physicians are unable to address the totality of a patient’s physical and emotional well-being,” he says.

Since beginning their research, the Mayo team partnered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to host a patient-reported outcome forum, during which researchers and clinicians from around the world gathered to help codify the FDA’s draft guidance for incorporating patient-reported outcomes into research. The team was also instrumental in subsequent symposiums designed to address this QOL issue, but they say that a need for overall guidance still exists.

The authors say QOL refers to all aspects of a cancer patient’s well-being, other than survival or tumor response. They review genetic imp
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