Stated preferences of patients with cancer for health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) domains during treatment
Objectives: It is postulated that patients with different cancer diagnoses, stages of disease and treatments will exhibit different individual preferences for health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) functional domains and symptoms. Methods: A stated-preference (SP) instrument incorporating all functional domains and symptoms of the EORTC Quality of Life Questionnaire (QLQ-C30) was administered to 400 patients with either breast (n=150); colorectal (n=150) or non-small cell lung cancer (n=100) who had previously experienced chemotherapy. The SP survey asked patients to make choices between a series of hypothetical functional/symptom pairs defined by combinations of HRQOL attributes, and depicted by levels of functioning and symptomatology. Results: In the 400 patients, considered as one group, role, cognitive, and social functioning, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, pain, appetite loss, diarrhea and financial difficulties were most important, whereas physical and emotional functioning, dyspnea, constipation and insomnia were less important. The four effects that patients with breast cancer most wished to avoid were nausea and vomiting, pain, and decreases in emotional and role functioning. Patients with colorectal cancer listed diarrhea as the second most important effect to avoid (after nausea/vomiting, but before pain and role functioning), whereas those with non-small cell lung cancer listed dyspnea as the fourth most important effect to avoid. Conclusion: These results provide more precise information regarding patient treatment concerns than that provided by the usual measurement of HRQOL. This information can be used by clinical trial investigators to design more precise interventions to improve HRQOL in the domains of greatest importance to patients and by all health care professionals to improve counseling of patients.