Patients with incurable illness experience considerable physical and psychological distress, which negatively impacts their quality of life. Palliative care clinicians primarily seek to alleviate suffering, enhance coping with symptoms, and enable informed decision making. Outcomes measurement is necessary to evaluate quality of care, increase knowledge about experiences with cancer and therapies, and determine the effectiveness of interventions directed toward improving symptoms and quality of life (QOL) in research and clinical care. Recent attention on outcomes measurement and research in palliative care settings has emphasized the need to incorporate patient-reported outcomes. Unlike other areas of research in oncology, palliative care research is comprised largely of descriptive studies elucidating the process involved with palliative care, with a notable void in well-designed patient-oriented studies employing standard instruments for measuring functional status, QOL, symptoms, and psychosocial well-being. Outcomes programs in practice settings where palliative care is an integral part of clinical services can offer important information about patient experiences across the continuum of care and help to identify patients most likely to benefit from palliative care interventions. Therefore, oncology nurses must be informed about outcome-measurement issues, including ways to select reliable and valid instruments and determine which ones are appropriate for palliative care populations. Content related to the measurement of patient-oriented outcomes is presented to assist nurses in developing outcomes programs in palliative care settings.
Last date updated on July, 2014