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27-09-2021 | Review

Perceived benefits and limitations of using patient-reported outcome measures in clinical practice with individual patients: a systematic review of qualitative studies

Quality of Life Research
Rachel Campbell, Angela Ju, Madeleine T. King, Claudia Rutherford
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Supplementary Information

The online version contains supplementary material available at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11136-021-03003-z.

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.



Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are increasingly used in clinical settings to inform individual patient care. In-depth understanding of end-users’ experiences may help identify factors that promote or hinder their use in clinical decision-making. We aimed to examine stakeholder perceptions of the utility of using PROMs in clinical practice based on real-life experience.


Systematic review searching Medline, Embase and PsychINFO from inception to May 2021. Qualitative studies examining patients’ and/or clinicians’ experiences of using PROMs in clinical settings were included. Study screening and data extraction were performed by two independent reviewers. Qualitative data from included studies was analysed thematically.


Of 2388 abstracts retrieved, 52 articles reporting 50 studies met eligibility. Five key benefits were identified: (1) promotes active patient involvement (enables goal setting and discussion of sensitive topics); (2) enhances the focus of consultations (prioritizes patient needs); (3) improves quality of care (enables tailored, holistic care and prompts action); (4) enables standardized monitoring of patient outcomes; and (5) enhances the patient–clinician relationship (provides reassurance). Perceived limitations included the capacity of PROMs to shift the focus of consultations; inaccurately estimate problems; raise unrealistic expectations for care; inhibit patient–clinician interaction; lack clinically meaningful information; and not be suitable for all patients.


Both patients and clinicians reported benefits of using PROMs across diverse health conditions and clinical settings, but also highlighted several limitations. These limitations shed some light on why PROM use may not always improve patient outcomes and provide considerations for the design and implementation of future PROM initiatives.

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