The utilization of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) patient questionnaires by clinical rheumatologists is limited. Yet, considerable literature exists defining the value of such data. In an effort to understand this apparent paradox, we performed a literature review and conducted a survey to describe what has been learned over the past 2 decades concerning the use of these measures in clinical care and explore the reasons for their underutilization.
A panel of rheumatologists with extensive clinical experience was convened to review the relevant literature pertaining to the use of HRQOL patient instruments in clinical practice. Additionally, a survey of all American College of Rheumatology practicing clinicians was conducted to assess the use of and beliefs about these measures.
The literature provided evidence to support the use of HRQOL patient measures in clinical practice. Forty-seven percent of the responding rheumatologists stated that none of their patients complete HRQOL patient questionnaires. The majority of respondents (63%) reported that such information is “somewhat valuable.” The most frequently reported reason for the underutilization was that such instruments “require too much staff time.”
The literature supports the potential value of HRQOL patient questionnaires in clinical practice. Few rheumatologists routinely gather such information as part of patient care. Reasons for this discrepancy between utility and use are given along with recommendations intended to help increase their utilization in clinical care.