Needs assessments can identify scores on HRQOL questionnaires that represent problems for patients: An illustration with the Supportive Care Needs Survey and the QLQ-C30

Claire F. Snyder, Amanda L. Blackford, Julie R. Brahmer, Michael A. Carducci, Roberto Pili, Vered Stearns, Antonio C. Wolff, Sydney M. Dy, Albert W. Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations


Purpose: A barrier to using HRQOL questionnaires for individual patient management is knowing what score represents a problem deserving attention. We explored using needs assessments to identify HRQOL scores associated with patient-reported unmet needs. Methods: This cross-sectional study included 117 cancer patients (mean age 61 years; 51% men; 77% white) who completed the Supportive Care Needs Survey (SCNS) and EORTC QLQ-C30. SCNS scores were dichotomized as "no unmet need" versus "some unmet need" and served as an external criterion for identifying problem scores. We evaluated the discriminative ability of QLQ-C30 scores using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. Domains with an area under the ROC curve (AUC) ≥ .70 were examined further to determine how well QLQ-C30 scores predicted presence/absence of unmet need. Results: We found AUCs ≥ .70 for 6 of 14 EORTC domains: physical, emotional, role, global QOL, pain, fatigue. All 6 domains had sensitivity ≥ .85 and specificity ≥ .50. EORTC domains that closely matched the content of SCNS item(s) were more likely to have AUCs ≥ .70. The appropriate cut-off depends on the relative importance of false positives and false negatives. Conclusions: Needs assessments can identify HRQOL scores requiring clinicians' attention. Future research should confirm these findings using other HRQOL questionnaires and needs assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)837-845
Number of pages9
JournalQuality of Life Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010



  • Cancer
  • Clinical practice
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Interpretation
  • Needs assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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