Computerized Assessment for Patients With Cancer
Patients with cancer, across a wide range of diagnoses and stages, have a high incidence of
symptoms that may greatly impact quality of life. The consequences of inadequate symptom
assessment and management are profound, complex, and can be overwhelming to patients and
their caregivers. However, clinicians are faced too often with shrinking resources, removing
opportunities for comprehensive, interpersonal interactions with patients. The patient's
experience, particularly symptoms and quality of life (QOL) concerns, reported in a reliable
and systematic way, is an essential component of the information on which a complete
clinical assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan is based. Computer technology has been
developed for patient self-reporting of symptom and QOL data using validated survey
instruments delivered on notebook computers, personal digital assistants, and over the Web.
Not only do these devices eliminate the usual steps of abstracting patient interview data
and/or keying in marked responses, but the interfaces also permit customized, confidential
and private assistance with answering queries more completely. While the reports are few,
the results are positive: data integrity is enhanced by the computerized assessment, and
patients prefer, and are easily able to complete the computerized versions. Furthermore,
computerized screening procedures have demonstrably enhanced communication between
clinicians and patients and successfully identified psychologically distressed patients with
- Clinicians and researchers developed and pilot-tested the ESRA-C prototype in 2000/2001
at the University of Washington Medical Center Cancer Center. The successful
implementation was published in 2004 in the Oncology Nursing Forum. 
- The purpose of this new randomized trial is to evaluate the clinical use of our
web-based ESRA-C throughout the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
- Two patients per month per team (Transplant) or per provider (Radiation Oncology,
Medical Oncology) will be enrolled in this study.
- Patients will use the system to self-assess their symptoms and QOL at 2 time points,
before (T1) and after treatment (T2)
- At the second, on-treatment assessment, the intervention group patients will have a
color-graphic summary of their answers from both T1 and T2 delivered to the clinical
team before the clinic visit with the patient.
- Both intervention and control participants will have the T2 clinic visit
audio-recorded. Clinician data will be anonymously entered and audio-files destroyed.
- Using chart reviews we will abstract any notations, therapies ordered, prescriptions
written and referrals made, relevant to symptoms and quality of life issues. This will
be documented without clinician identifiers.
Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Treatment
Frequency of QOL and symptom topics being addressed in audiotaped patient/clinician visits
Donna L Berry, PHD RN
School of Nursing, University of Washington
United States: Institutional Review Board
|University of Washington Medical Center||Seattle, Washington 98195-6043|
|Seattle Cancer Care Alliance||Seattle, Washington 98109|