The following is a summary of “Patient Reported Outcomes and Unscheduled Health Services use During Oral Anti-Cancer Treatment,” published in the FEBRUARY 2023 issue of Pain Management by Sikorskii, et al.

Compared to infusion therapies, those receiving oral anti-cancer medications must manage their symptoms on their own and meet with oncologists less frequently. Key patient-reported outcomes (PROs) include symptoms and physical function. These PROs have the potential to trigger unforeseen usage of health services (urgent care and emergency department [ED] visits, hospitalizations). For a study, researchers sought to assess the extent to which PRO data (symptoms and functioning) increased the prediction of unscheduled healthcare use based on age, sex, and comorbidity.

Data from the control group of a study of a medication adherence reminder and symptom self-management intervention for patients initiating a new oral anti-cancer treatment (n = 117 examined) served as the basis for the post-hoc exploratory analysis. About 18 symptoms, physical function, and depression were evaluated for severity and interference with daily living at intake (start of oral agent), as well as four, eight, and 12 weeks later. Generalized mixed-effects models were used to examine the unscheduled use of health services throughout three four-week periods following the commencement of oral medications in connection to age, sex, comorbidity, and PROs at the beginning of each time period.

Hospitalizations in the four weeks after PRO evaluation were significantly predicted by the summed severity index of 18 symptoms and physical function. Areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves were enhanced by the inclusion of PROs and are now often more than .70.

If supportive care treatments are used based on PRO levels, monitoring PROs may reduce the utilization of unplanned health services.