Quality of Life Research

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 1207–1216 | Cite as

Identifying changes in scores on the EORTC-QLQ-C30 representing a change in patients’ supportive care needs

  • Claire F. SnyderEmail author
  • Amanda L. Blackford
  • Jonathan Sussman
  • Daryl Bainbridge
  • Doris Howell
  • Hsien Y. Seow
  • Michael A. Carducci
  • Albert W. Wu



Using health-related quality-of-life measures for patient management requires knowing what changes in scores require clinical attention. We estimated changes on the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality-of-Life-Questionnaire-Core-30 (EORTC-QLQ-C30), representing important changes by comparing to patient-reported changes in supportive care needs.


This secondary analysis used data from 193 newly diagnosed cancer patients (63 % breast, 37 % colorectal; mean age 60 years; 20 % male) from 28 Canadian surgical practices. Participants completed the Supportive Care Needs Survey-Short Form-34 (SCNS-SF34) and EORTC-QLQ-C30 at baseline, 3, and 8 weeks. We calculated mean changes in EORTC-QLQ-C30 scores associated with improvement, worsening, and no change in supportive care needs based on the SCNS-SF34. Mean changes in the EORTC-QLQ-C30 scores associated with the SCNS-SF34 improved and worsened categories were used to estimate clinically important changes, and the ‘no change’ category to estimate insignificant changes.


EORTC-QLQ-C30 score changes ranged from 6 to 32 points for patients reporting improved supportive care needs; statistically significant changes were 10–32 points. EORTC-QLQ-C30 score changes ranged from 21-point worsening to 21-point improvement for patients reporting worsening supportive care needs; statistically significant changes were 9–21 points in the hypothesized direction and a 21-point statistically significant change in the opposite direction. EORTC-QLQ-C30 score changes ranged from a 1-point worsening to 16-point improvement for patients reporting stable supportive care needs.


These data suggest 10-point EORTC-QLQ-C30 score changes represent changes in supportive care needs. When using the EORTC-QLQ-C30 in clinical practice, scores changing ≥10 points should be highlighted for clinical attention.


EORTC-QLQ-C30 Supportive care needs Patient-reported outcomes Clinical practice Cancer Clinically important differences 



Area under the curve


European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality-of-Life-Questionnaire-Core-30


Generalized estimating equation


Health-related quality of life


Minimal important difference


Patient-reported outcome


Randomized controlled trial


Receiver operating characteristic


Supportive Care Needs Survey-Short Form-34



This analysis was funded by the American Cancer Society (# MRSG-08-011-01-CPPB). The original data collection was supported by the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care. Dr Snyder and Dr Carducci are members of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins (P30 CA 006973).

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire F. Snyder
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Amanda L. Blackford
    • 3
  • Jonathan Sussman
    • 4
  • Daryl Bainbridge
    • 4
  • Doris Howell
    • 5
    • 6
  • Hsien Y. Seow
    • 4
  • Michael A. Carducci
    • 3
  • Albert W. Wu
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of General Internal MedicineJohns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns HopkinsBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  5. 5.University Health Network/Princess Margaret HospitalTorontoCanada
  6. 6.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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