BACKGROUND: Trials are robust sources of data for clinical practice; however, trial outcomes may not reflect what is important to communicate for decision-making. The study compared clinicians' views of outcomes to include in a core outcome set for colorectal cancer (CRC) surgery, with what clinicians considered important information for clinical practice (core information).
METHODS: Potential outcome/information domains were identified through systematic literature reviews, reviews of hospital information leaflets and interviews with patients. These were organized into six categories and used to design a questionnaire survey that asked surgeons and nurses from a sample of CRC centers to rate the importance of each domain as an outcome or as information on a nine-point Likert scale. Respondents were re-surveyed (round 2) following group feedback (Delphi methods). Comparisons were made by calculating the difference in mean scores between the outcomes and information domains, and paired t tests were used to explore the difference between mean scores of the six outcome/information categories.
RESULTS: Data sources identified 1216 outcome/information items for CRC surgery that informed a 94-item questionnaire. First-round questionnaires were returned from 63/81 (78 %) of centers. Clinicians rated 76/94 (84 %) domains of higher importance to measure in trials than information to communicate to patients in round 1. This was reduced to 24/47 (51 %) in round 2. The greatest difference was evident in domains regarding survival, which was rated much more highly as a trial outcome than an important piece of information for decision-making (difference in mean 2.3, 95 % CI 1.9 to 2.8, p <0.0001). Specific complications and quality-of-life domains were rated similarly (difference in mean 0.18, 95 % CI -0.1 to 0.4, p = 0.2 and difference in mean 0.2, 95 % CI -0.1 to 0.5, p = 0.2, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: Whilst clinicians want to measure key outcomes in trials, they rate these as less important to communicate in decision-making with patients. This discrepancy needs to be explored and addressed to maximize the impact of trials on clinical practice.