Inclusion of patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in cancer randomized controlled trials (RCTs) may be particularly important for older patients. The objectives of this systematic review were to quantify the frequency with which older patients are included in RCTs with PROs and to evaluate the quality of PRO reporting in those trials.
All RCTs with PRO endpoints, published between January 2004 to February 2019, which included a patient sample with a mean/median age ≥70 years, were considered for this systematic review. The following cancer malignancies were considered: breast, colorectal, lung, prostate, gynaecological, and bladder cancer.
Quality of PRO reporting was evaluated using the International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL)-PRO standards. Studies meeting at least two-thirds of these criteria were considered to have high quality PRO reporting.
Of 649 RCTs identified with a PRO endpoint, only 72 (11.1%) included older patients. Of these, 35 trials (48.6%) were conducted in patients with metastatic/advanced disease. PROs were primary endpoints in 20 RCTs (27.8%). Overall survival (OS) was the most frequently reported clinical outcome in studies with metastatic/advanced cancer patients (n=28, 80%). One-third of the RCTs (n=24, 33.3%) were considered to have high quality PRO reporting. Overall, the largest prevalence of RCTs with high quality PRO reporting was observed in prostate and colorectal cancer.
Our review indicates that, not only PRO-RCT based studies in oncology rarely include older patients, but also that completeness of PRO reporting of many of them is often suboptimal.
- older patients
- patient-reported outcomes
- quality of life
- randomized-controlled trials