Reporting of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) data in oncology trials: a comparison of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life (EORTC QLQ-C30) and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G)

Abstract

Purpose

The inclusion of patient-reported outcome (PRO) instruments to record patient health-related quality of life (HRQOL) data has virtually become the norm in oncology randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Despite this fact, recent concerns have focused on the quality of reporting of HRQOL. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the quality of reporting of HRQOL data from two common instruments in oncology RCTs.

Design

A meta-review was undertaken of systematic reviews reporting HRQOL data collected using PRO instruments in oncology randomised controlled trials (RCTs). English language articles published between 2000 and 2012 were included and evaluated against a methodology checklist.

Results

Four hundred and thirty-five potential articles were identified. Six systematic reviews were included in the analysis. A total of 70,403 patients had completed PROs. The European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer QLQ-C30 and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General questionnaire accounted for 55 % of RCTs. Eighty per cent of RCTs had used psychometrically validated instruments; 70 % reported culturally valid instruments and almost all reported the assessment timing (96 %). Thirty per cent of RCTS reported clinical significance and missing data. In terms of methodological design, only 25 % of RCTs could be categorised as probably robust.

Conclusion

The majority of oncology RCTs has shortcomings in terms of reporting HRQOL data when assessed against regulatory and methodology guidelines. These limitations will need to be addressed if HRQOL data are to be used to successfully support clinical decision-making, treatment options and labelling claims in oncology.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Those studies reporting amended or modified versions of these questionnaires were excluded.

  2. 2.

    This is an underestimation as data on patient numbers were not reported in three trials [14, 17].

Abbreviations

CONSORT:

Consolidated standards of reporting trials

EORTC QLQ-C30:

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

FACT-G:

Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General

HRQOL:

Health-related quality of life

PRO:

Patient-reported Outcome

RCT:

Randomised controlled trial

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to Katarina Halling, Anders Ingelgård, Anna Niklasson, Sindre Rolstad (AstraZeneca AB, Mölndal, Sweden), Chris Miller (AstraZeneca, Wilmington, USA) and Clare McGrath (AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Macclesfield, UK) for their thoughtful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this paper. Adam B. Smith was supported through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership Grant (KTP007957) funded jointly by the UK Technology Strategy Board and AstraZeneca Ltd.

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Correspondence to Adam B. Smith.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Ltd (UK) or York Health Economics Consortium.

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Smith, A.B., Cocks, K., Parry, D. et al. Reporting of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) data in oncology trials: a comparison of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life (EORTC QLQ-C30) and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G). Qual Life Res 23, 971–976 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-013-0534-2

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Keywords

  • Health-related quality of life
  • Patient-reported outcomes
  • Randomised controlled trials
  • Oncology