Monitoring patient-reported symptoms electronically can increase cancer patient survival, study shows

Electronic patient-reported symptom monitoring can help improve survival of metastatic cancer patients as compared to usual care, according to research letter published in JAMA.

Researchers assessed overall survival associated with electronic patient-reported symptom monitoring versus usual care based on follow-up from a randomized clinical trial. They invited patients who had received routine chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, between September 2007 and January 2011, to participate in the trial.

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The 766 participants were randomly assigned either to the usual care group or to the patient-reported outcome group. In the latter group, patients provided a self-report of 12 common National Cancer Institute symptoms via a web-based PRO questionnaire platform. When participants reported a severe or worsening symptom, an email alert was sent to a clinical nurse. Each patient's symptom history was compiled into a report for the treating oncologists.

The researchers assessed overall survival in June 2016 after 517 of the 766 participants died. Median overall survival was 31.2 months in the PRO group and 26 months in the usual care group. Additionally, the research shows nurses responded to symptom alerts around 77 percent of the time, offering clinical interventions such as calls to provide symptom management counseling and referrals.

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