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The challenges, opportunities and best practice for Patient Reported Outcome (PRO) assessment were discussed by SPCR principle investigator Professor Melanie Calvert during her talk to the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences in Oxford last week.

The aim of Melanie's work is to develop best practice for PROs in trials to inform patient care. She spoke about PROs and why they were an essential component of patient centred research. Current challenges faced by both patients and researchers were highlighted and the importance of a clear rationale for assessment and selection of appropriate questionnaires emphasised.

Opportunities for improvement included: the provision of increased information relating to PROs in protocols of trials, training and guidance for staff, ensuring patients know how their PRO data will be used and pre-specified management plans for ‘PRO Alerts’. Transparent reporting of PROs in accordance with the CONSORT-PRO extension will help minimise ’research waste’ and facilitate the use of these valuable data to inform patient care and health policy.

Melanie, who leads the PRO Research Group within Primary Care Clinical Sciences at the University of Birmingham is a Board Member of the International Society for Quality of Life Research, has received SPCR funding to review existing guidance for protocol writers relating to PROs and the PRO content of trial protocols, supervises SPCR funded doctoral researchers, Derek Kyte and Grace Moran, and has published extensively on the subject with fellow colleagues at the University of Birmingham and international collaborators.

It was a privilege to have Professor Sir Peter Morris,  emeritus Nuffield Professor of Surgery at the University of Oxford, in the audience. Peter has written a blog on the importance of Patient Reported Outcomes on the Centre for Evidence in Transplantation website.

Professor Melanie Calvert gave a superb lecture on Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs) in the Doll seminar series in Oxford last Tuesday. She presented all the work that she and her group have done in this area and it was absolutely a first class presentation and we all learnt a lot from what she told us, particularly in the assessment of PROs which tend to be included in all randomised clinical trial protocols but data is poorly collected or not collected at all. She pointed out that a robust interpretation of the results of clinical trials does depend on the Patients Reported Outcomes to make it more relevant to patient care. 

-  Professor Sir Peter Morris

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