Symptoms, Quality of Life, and Daily Activities in People With Newly Diagnosed Solid Tumors Presenting to a Medical Oncologist

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Abstract

Introduction:

Symptom and Quality of Life (QOL) data are important patient reported outcomes. Early identification of these is critical for appropriate interventions. Data collection may be helped by modern information technology.

Aim:

This study examined symptoms and QOL in people with solid tumors at their first visit to a medical oncologist. We also evaluated the clinical utility of tablet computers (TC) to collect this data.

Methods:

This was a prospective study of 105 consecutive patients in the cancer outpatient clinic of a tertiary level academic medical center. Symptom and QOL data was collected by TC with wireless database upload.

Results:

One-third participants had moderate to severe pain; almost half clinically significant pain that interfered with daily activities. Tiredness, anxiety, and drowsiness were common (prevalence - 79%, 63% and 50% respectively). One-third of those who had items identified from the Edmonton System Assessment System also volunteered other symptoms, mostly gastrointestinal problems. Many of those affected also reported impaired Global Wellbeing and low Overall QOL. There was a 98% completion rate, which took on average ten minutes. Direct observation and informal feedback from patients and physicians regarding the acceptability of TC in this setting was uniformly positive.

Conclusions:

Amongst people with newly diagnosed solid tumors clinically important psychological and physical symptoms, QOL problems and difficulties with daily activities were commonly present in the 24-hour period and in the week before a first Medical Oncology visit. Symptom and QOL data collection by TC in busy outpatient clinics showed good clinical utility.

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