Measuring quality of life in cancer survivors: a methodological review of existing scales



Background: Studies examining quality of life (QoL) in cancer survivors have relied on instruments specific to the cancer patient population.

Method: MEDLINE and PsycINFO were systematically searched to identify instruments and papers reporting the psychometric qualities of relevant instruments. Two reviewers undertook data extraction with respect to reliability, validity, predictive validity, responsiveness, acceptability, readability, cross cultural acceptability and feasibility.

Results: Forty-two instruments were identified. Most were either measures of general health-related QoL or developed for individuals in active treatment. Nine were developed specifically for cancer survivors. None met the rigorous psychometric standards set by the review. All established acceptable levels of validity, however, only one instrument (Quality of Life-Cancer Survivors) demonstrated adequate test–retest reliability. Acceptability, feasibility and predictive validity remain unexamined. Readability was examined in only two (Cancer Survivors' Unmet needs and Quality of Life in Adult Cancer Survivors (QLACS)). Only two instruments (QLACS and Impact of Cancer) have been developed with a wide range of cancer survivors. Generally, shorter-term cancer survivors (1–5 years) are underrepresented.

Conclusion: There is a need for a psychometrically credible QoL instrument for cancer survivors who are 1–5 years post diagnosis. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.