An alternative approach to implementing patient-reported outcome measures.
Gibbons E., Fitzpatrick R.
Background: Obtaining patients' views of their health and outcomes of interventions utilising patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) is a well-established method, but there is still uncertainty about the impact of PROMs on services and patient care. Studies are now needed of alternative ways of implementing PROMs. This paper describes a case study of the introduction of a new PROM to assess musculoskeletal (MSK) problems, known as the Musculoskeletal Health Questionnaire (MSK-HQ). Methods: Following an invitation from the Arthritis Research UK (ARUK), 11 groups and organisations agreed to become 'partners' in piloting the MSK-HQ. Twenty-nine interviews and a focus group were carried out with key informants from the partners. Interviews were supplemented with some documentary evidence of partners' meetings. Data were coded and analysed with NVivo software V.10. Analysis was carried out via a framework method. Results: Participants reported positive evidence that the MSK-HQ is feasible and practical for use in patient care with content that helped health professionals identify and address patients' main presenting problems. Although mediated and reported through health professionals' judgments, the questionnaire was also seen as very relevant and acceptable to a wide spectrum of patients.There was also broad support for the view that whilst the MSK-HQ is relevant to individual patient care, it could also, when aggregated, reflect the experiences of patients as a group and be used as evidence for third parties concerned with the provision and commissioning of services.The main difficulties revealed by the case study were in the form of logistics and sustainability. It was recognised that electronic systems would be more effective for administration and data processing but they were not feasible to develop and implement within reasonable timelines and available budgets. A sustainable approach to using the PROM required significant long-term commitment of budget, a coherent system, and active support from diverse organisations. Conclusions: The current study supports the view that a bottom-up approach is a promising method to generate PROM-related insights that are relevant to patients and health professionals. The partnership approach to developing and using PROMs may have wider relevance and potential as a model of implementation.