, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 979-985
Date: 29 Jan 2011

A knowledge translation challenge: clinical use of quality of life data from cancer clinical trials

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Measurement and reporting of health-related quality of life (HRQL) data have evolved considerably over the past 10 years. Our goal was to identify the current barriers to, and enablers of, the effective translation of HRQL outcome data from randomized clinical trials by investigating physician attitudes, knowledge, and education needs.


We undertook a mixed qualitative and quantitative study of 33 oncologists’ attitudes and educational needs around the value, interpretation, and application of HRQL data from cancer clinical trials. The approach was designed to identify barriers and enablers relating to the characteristics of the knowledge itself, to the potential users of the knowledge, and to the environment in which the knowledge is used.


The majority of barriers and enablers identified were “second order”, i.e., related to the understandability and generalizability of the data, its presentation, its accessibility within the medical literature, and its relevance to specific patient populations.


Our results suggest knowledge translation (KT) of HRQL results would improve if the clinical trial HRQL data were easily accessible to clinicians, and presented in a comprehensible and clinically applicable format, which includes discussion of the relevance of the measurement domains and implications of the findings. We recommend that standards of clinical trial HRQL reporting be implemented in clinical journals.