ABSTRACT For cancer patients on Phase I trials, one of the most important physician decisions is whether or not patients are deriving benefit from therapy. With an increasing number of cytostatic treatment agents, the criteria to determine patient response to Phase I treatment has become harder to define. Physicians are increasingly looking to patient-reported outcomes (PROs) such as quality of life (QOL) to help evaluate treatment response. Electronic daily diary (EDD) devices can be used by patients to report their QOL over extended periods of time, thereby providing a more accurate picture of how patients are affected by treatment on a daily basis. However, questions remain about how to integrate this patient-reported information into decisions about Phase I treatment. This study investigated how physicians use patients’ daily QOL reports to evaluate patient response to Phase I treatment. Data were collected over a 4-month period from Phase I patients (N = 30) and physicians (N = 3) in an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center. Patients completed daily QOL reports using EDD devices and physicians were provided with a summary of patients’ QOL before each visit. After the visit, doctors recorded their treatment decision and also rated the importance of four biomedical factors (Toxicity, Imaging, Labs, and Performance Status) and QOL in their treatment decision for that visit. Although physicians rated QOL as being very important in evaluating treatment response, in practice, when predictors of their decisions were analyzed, results showed they relied exclusively on biomedical data (Toxicity, Imaging) to make Phase I treatment decisions. Questions remain about the utility and effective integration of QOL and biomedical data in clinical decision-making processes in Phase I clinical trials.
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