HealthDay News — Patient-reported outcome measures (PROs) can be useful for measuring symptoms in primary care clinics if clinicians use these measures to improve care, according to patient interview data published in the December issue of Quality of Life Research.

Tasneem L. Talib, Ph.D., from the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis, and colleagues examined patients’ perceptions of the utility of symptoms-based PROs in primary care. Twenty-three patients with one or more sleep, pain, anxiety, depression, and low energy/fatigue symptoms were interviewed about the use, implementation, and visual display of the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System.

The researchers identified five themes, including that PROs may foster communication about symptoms and that data from PROs may prompt clinical actions. In addition, the visual display of symptom scores can be useful for patients and providers, although interpretation could be enhanced by modifications. There was variation in implementation according to patient perception of PRO features such as length. Finally, although PROs may be useful, the extent to which they are useful varies based on how much they are valued, prioritized, and used.

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“Patients see both personal and clinical benefits in routinely completing questionnaires about symptoms they are experiencing,” Talib said in a statement. “While they understand that their doctors see a lot of patients, they don’t want to feel like a number. They want their doctors to actually review and use the information they are providing.”

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