Studies found that treatment symptoms of concern to oncology/hematology patients were greatly under-identified in medical records. On average, 11.0 symptoms were reported of concern to patients compared to 1.5 symptoms identified in their medical records. A solution to this problem is use of an electronic symptom checklist that can be easily accessed by patients prior to clinical consultations. Purpose: Describe the oncology Therapy-Related Symptom Checklists for Adults (TRSC) and Children (TRSC-C), which are validated bases for e-Health symptom documentation and management. The TRSC has 25 items/symptoms; the TRSC-C has 30 items/symptoms. These items capture up to 80% of the variance of patient symptoms. Measurement properties and applications with outpatients are presented. E-Health applications are indicated.
The TRSC was developed for adults (N = 282) then modified for children (N = 385). Statistical analyses have been done using correlational, epidemiologic, and qualitative methods. Extensive validation of measurement properties has been reported.
Research has found high levels of patient/clinician satisfaction, no increase in clinic costs, and strong correlations of TRSC/TRSC-C with medical outcomes. A recently published sequential cohort trial with adult outpatients at a Mayo Clinic community cancer center found TRSC use produced a 7.2% higher patient quality of life, 116% more symptoms identified/managed, and higher functional status.
Discussion, implications, and follow-up
An electronic system has been built to collect TRSC symptoms, reassure patients, and enhance patient-clinician communications. This report discusses system design and efforts made to provide an electronic system comfortable to patients. Methods used by clinicians to promote comfort and patient engagement were examined and incorporated into system design. These methods included (a) conversational data collection as opposed to survey style or standardized questionnaires, (b) short response phrases indicating understanding of the reported symptom, (c) use of open-ended questions to reduce long lists of symptoms, (d) directed questions that ask for confirmation of expected symptoms, (e) review of symptoms at designated stages, and (d) alerting patients when the computer has informed clinicians about patient-reported symptoms.
An e-Health symptom checklist (TRSC/TRSC-C) can facilitate identification, monitoring, and management of symptoms; enhance patient-clinician communications; and contribute to improved patient outcomes.