The purpose of this research was to measure changes in HRQoL during the diagnostic evaluation of patients presenting with non-specific symptoms possibly attributable to cancer, to describe their experiences of HRQoL and to merge these findings with intent to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of their HRQoL experience during this stressful life event.
A convergent mixed methods (MM) design was used and involved quantitative data about HRQoL measured by the EORTC-QLQ-C30 instrument and qualitative interview data about patients’ HRQoL experiences. Participants completed the EORTC-QLQ-C30 questionnaire prior to and after evaluation. The baseline questionnaire informed the purposive sampling for the qualitative interview study, and open-end questions matched to the EORTC-QLQ-C30 constructs were used in the semi-structured interviews.
A total of 838 patients were enrolled in the quantitative study; 680 (81 %) also completed follow-up. Twenty-one patients participated in interviews. The MM findings are the meta-inferences drawn by looking across the matched quantitative and qualitative findings: physical function, social function, role function, emotional function, cognitive function, social function, symptoms and quality of life.
The survey results illustrate that HRQoL improved over time and the qualitative findings confirmed and further expanded the survey results. The MM analysis underlines that the HRQoL experience cannot be observed independently from context. Participants adapted to their situation over time, and this may change their perceptions of HRQoL. These findings can be used to enhance evidence-based care as clinicians need to be aware of how the context influences the HRQoL experience.