Head and Neck Oncology


Ghazali N, Lowe D, Rogers SN. Enhanced patient reported outcome measurement suitable for head and neck cancer follow-up clinics. Head Neck Oncol. 2012 Jun 13;4(1):32.



The ‘Worse-Stable-Better’ (W-S-B) question was introduced to capture patient-perceived change in University of Washington Quality of Life (UW-QOL) domains.


202 head and neck cancer patients in remission prospectively completed UW-QOL and Patients Concerns Inventory (PCI). For each UW-QOL domain, patients indicated whether over the last month things had worsened (W), remained stable (S) or were better (B).


202 patients at 448 attendances selected 1752 PCI items they wanted to discuss in consultation, and 58% (1024/1752) of these were not covered by the UW-QOL. UW-QOL algorithms highlighted another 440 significant problems that the patient did not want to discuss (i.e. the corresponding items on the PCI were not selected).

After making allowance for UW-QOL algorithms to identify 'significant problems' and PCI selection of corresponding issues for discussion there remained clear residual and notable variation in W-S-B responses, in particular to identify patients with significant problems that were getting worse, and patients without significant problems that wanted to discuss issues that were getting worse. Changes in mean UW-QOL scores were notably lower for those getting worse on the W-S-B question, typically by 10 or more units a magnitude that suggests clinically important changes in score.


The W-S-B question adds little questionnaire burden and could help to better identify patients who might benefit from intervention. The results of this study suggest that the UW-QOL with the W-S-B modification should be used together with the PCI to allow optimal identification of issues for patient-clinician discussion during routine outpatient clinics.

Corresponding Author

Simon N Rogers (snrogers@doctors.org.uk)