Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) are increasingly used in clinical trials to provide patients’ perspectives regarding symptoms, health-related quality of life, and satisfaction with treatments. A range of guidance documents exist for the selection of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) in clinical trials, and it is unclear to what extent these documents present consistent recommendations.
We conducted a targeted review of publications and regulatory guidance documents that advise on the selection of PROMs for use in clinical trials. A total of seven guidance documents from the US Food and Drug Administration, European Medicines Agency, and scientific consortia from professional societies were included in the final review. Guidance documents were analyzed using a content analysis approach comparing them with minimum standards recommended by the International Society for Quality of Life Research.
Overall there was substantial agreement between guidance regarding the appropriate considerations for PROM selection within a clinical trial. Variations among the guidance primarily related to differences in their format and differences in the perspectives and mandates of their respective organizations. Whereas scientific consortia tended to produce checklist or rating-type guidance, regulatory groups tended to use more narrative-based approaches sometimes supplemented with lists of criteria.
The consistency in recommendations suggests an emerging consensus in the field and supports use of any of the major guidance documents available to guide PROM selection for clinical trials without concern of conflicting recommendations. This work represents an important first step in the international PROTEUS Consortium’s ongoing efforts to optimize the use of PROs in clinical trials.