New method to improve patient quality of life

17 May 2022

A new method that uses quality of life data collected during clinical trials will help patients make more informed treatment decisions.

University of Queensland and University of Sydney researchers developed the method by combining the time needed to achieve a health outcome of minimal clinical importance with trade-offs between different treatments to determine the impact on a patient’s quality of life.

Professor Monika Janda, from the UQ Centre for Health Services Research, said Australia leads the world in several cancer treatment outcomes which factor in patient wellbeing.

“Quality of life is one of the most important outcomes of any medical treatment and data on this is regularly collected during clinical trials.

“However, the data is often not used to maximise patient understanding of different treatments,” Professor Janda said.

“This limitation has now been addressed to improve patient knowledge of treatments and enable informed decision making that achieves maximum quality of life.”

The new method is particularly important for patients who must choose between different treatments that may result in the same survival benefit but have quite different quality of life trajectories.

Professor Andreas Obermair, from the UQ Centre for Clinical Research, said enabling patients to visualise quality of life outcomes will make it easier for them to choose treatments that suit their personal preferences.

“It will also make it easier for clinicians to counsel patients more fully,” Professor Obermair said.

“As clinicians we always seek to make treatments better, effective and more beneficial for patients.

“Being able to clearly show patients what quality of life benefit they can expect, when they can expect it, and what the trade-offs may be, is extremely helpful for clinicians.

“For example, the medical condition used in this study showed that women with endometrial cancer who receive keyhole surgery can expect better quality of life, due to faster physical recovery and emotional wellbeing than if they choose another type of surgery.”

Professor Val Gebski, from the University of Sydney, is lead author of the paper.

“I have been working with clinical trials and quality of life data for all of my career and I am very proud this new method can now support clinicians and patients to make more informed treatment decisions,” Professor Gebski said.   

This paper is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (DOI: 10.1200/JCO.21.02750)