Electronic Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (ePROMs) Improve the Assessment of Underrated Physical and Psychological Symptom Burden among Oncological Inpatients

For advanced cancer inpatients, the established standard for gathering information about symptom burden involves a daily assessment by nursing staff using validated assessments. In contrast, a systematic assessment of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) is required, but it is not yet systematically implemented. We hypothesized that current practice results in underrating the severity of patients’ symptom burden. To explore this hypothesis, we have established systematic electronic PROMs (ePROMs) using validated instruments at a major German Comprehensive Cancer Center. In this retrospective, non-interventional study, lasting from September 2021 to February 2022, we analyzed collected data from 230 inpatients. Symptom burden obtained by nursing staff was compared to the data acquired by ePROMs. Differences were detected by performing descriptive analyses, Chi-Square tests, Fisher’s exact, Phi-correlation, Wilcoxon tests, and Cohen’s r. Our analyses pointed out that pain and anxiety especially were significantly underrated by nursing staff. Nursing staff ranked these symptoms as non-existent, whereas patients stated at least mild symptom burden (pain: meanNRS/epaAC = 0 (no); meanePROM = 1 (mild); p < 0.05; r = 0.46; anxiety: meanepaAC = 0 (no); meanePROM = 1 (mild); p < 0.05; r = 0.48). In conclusion, supplementing routine symptom assessment used daily by nursing staff with the systematic, e-health-enabled acquisition of PROMs may improve the quality of supportive and palliative care.


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