An explorative study on systematic assessment of QOL and care needs with the CARES-SF in the early follow-up of patients with digestive cancer

  • Bojoura SchoutenEmail author
  • Dominiek De Jonckheere
  • Marc Aerts
  • Jochen Decaestecker
  • Daan Walgraeve
  • Patrick Vankrunkelsven
  • Johan Hellings
Original Article



Systematic assessment of QOL and care needs was applied in two gastroenterology departments to support “Cancer Care for the Whole Patient.”


Patients with digestive cancer were asked to complete the Cancer Rehabilitation Evaluation System-Short Form (CARES-SF) at the start of treatment and 3 months later. Both times CARES data were processed, and summary reports on the retained insights were sent to the reference nurse for use in further follow-up of the patient. Patients’ and reference nurse’s experiences with the systematic CARES-assessment were explored with several survey questions and semi-structured interviews, respectively.


The mean age of the 51 participants was 63 years (SD11.17), 52.9% was male. With the CARES-SF, a large variety of problems and care needs was detected. Problems most frequently experienced, and most burdensome for QOL are a mix of physical complaints, side effects from treatment, practical, relational, and psychosocial difficulties. Only for a limited number of experienced problems a desire for extra help was expressed. All patients positively evaluate the timing and frequency of the CARES-assessment. The majority believes that this assessment could contribute to the discussion of problems and needs with healthcare professionals, to get more tailored care. Reference nurses experienced the intervention as an opportunity to systematically explore patients’ well-being in a comprehensive way, leading to detection and discussion of specific problems or needs in greater depth, and more efficient involvement of different disciplines in care.


Systematic QOL and needs assessment with the CARES-SF in oncology can contribute to more patient-centeredness and efficiency of care.


Digestive cancer Systematic assessment Quality of life Care needs CARES 



Cancer Rehabilitation Evaluation System


Cancer Rehabilitation Evaluation System-Short Form


Institute of Medicine


patient reported outcome measure


quality of life



We would like to acknowledge the gastroenterology departments who were willing to work with us for this pilot study. Also we would like to thank Limburg Sterk Merk (LSM) for funding the PhD-project of Bojoura Schouten.

Authors’ contributions

Study conceptualization and design: BS, JH, DDJ, JD, MA, DW, PV.

Data collection: BS, DDJ, MA.

Study coordination, data analysis, and drafting the paper: BS.

Revision of the paper: JH, DDJ, JD, MA, DW, PV.

All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committees.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

520_2018_4565_MOESM1_ESM.docx (49 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 48 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Medicine and Life SciencesHasselt UniversityHasseltBelgium
  2. 2.AZ Delta HospitalRoeselareBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Gastroenterology and HepatologyAZ Delta HospitalRoeselareBelgium
  4. 4.Department of Gastroenterology and HepatologyJessa HospitalHasseltBelgium
  5. 5.Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Campus GasthuisbergUniversity Hospitals KULeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  6. 6.Department of Public health and Primary Care, Faculty of MedicineKULeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  7. 7.Belgian Center for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBAM)LeuvenBelgium

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