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Issues for researchers to consider when using health-related quality of life outcomes in cancer research

Authors


Catherine McCabe, Trinity College Dublin, School of Nursing and Midwifery, 24 D'Olier Street, Dublin 2, Ireland (e-mail: camccabe@tcd.ie).

Abstract

McCABE C. & CRONIN P. (2010) European Journal of Cancer Care20, 563–569

Issues for researchers to consider when using health-related quality of life outcomes in cancer research

Maintaining quality of life for patients with cancer is a key factor when developing services related to diagnosis, treatment, recovery and/or terminal care. This paper questions whether health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is an appropriate measure of quality of life given that it does not assess factors reported by patients as being most influential, e.g. contact with family and social/cultural interaction. Ambiguity related to the definition and understanding of anxiety, depression and distress as outcomes commonly used by clinicians and researchers when measuring HRQoL in cancer research is also addressed by this paper. The findings of many cancer studies are interpreted and presented on very broad and poorly defined concepts thus preventing the development of a coherent and true understanding of how these outcomes influence quality of life for cancer patients. The authors of this paper conclude that the documentation and clear explanation of the concepts underpinning the choice of instrument and study design is essential but also the inclusion of outcomes related to social support and interaction would provide a more accurate account of quality of life issues in cancer research.

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