The patient-reported outcome content of international ovarian cancer randomised controlled trial protocols

Melanie Calvert, Derek Kyte, Rebecca Mercieca-bebber, Madeleine T. King

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Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) provide the patient’s perspective of the impact of treatment. Evidence suggests that PRO content of randomised controlled trials (RCT) protocols is generally suboptimal. This study aimed to describe and evaluate the PRO-specific content of ovarian cancer RCT protocols.
Published, phase III, ovarian cancer RCTs with PRO endpoints were identified following a systematic search of Medline and Cochrane databases (Jan 2000-Feb 2016). Corresponding RCT protocols were downloaded (if published) or obtained by contacting authors. Two investigators independently assessed adherence of PRO-specific content of included protocols to a checklist of 58 recommended
PRO protocol items currently being developed by the International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL). Discrepancies were resolved with a third investigator.
Of 41 eligible trials identified, 26 protocols were assessed (developed 1995-2010). We were unable to obtain the remaining 15 protocols. Protocols addressed a mean of 28% PRO checklist items (range 8-66%). Fifteen (58% of assessed protocols) provided a rationale for PRO assessment, 8 (31%) described a PRO objective, 24 (92%) included a PRO assessment schedule, but only 6 (23%) justified timing of PRO assessments. Twelve protocols (46%) provided staff data collection instructions, 4 (15%) included plans for monitoring PRO compliance and 16 (62%) included a PRO analysis plan.
On average, protocols addressed less than one-third of PRO protocol checklist items. In some cases, key guidance regarding PRO administration was lacking, which may lead to inconsistent and suboptimal PRO methodology. Efforts are needed to improve PRO protocol content in cancer trials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2457–2465
JournalQuality of Life Research
Issue number10
Early online date13 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Quality of life
  • patient-reported outcomes
  • protocol checklist
  • ovarian cancer
  • clinical trials as topic
  • guideline adherence


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