A pilot study on the Vanderbilt head and neck symptom survey Italian version (VHNSS-IT) to test its feasibility and utility in routine clinical practice

  • Marta MaddaloEmail author
  • Michela Buglione
  • Nadia Pasinetti
  • Luca Triggiani
  • Ludovica Pegurri
  • Alessandro Magli
  • Stefano M. Magrini
  • Barbara A. Murphy



Patient-reported outcome measures can be useful to assess symptoms in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients treated with radio-chemotherapy. This is a pilot study on the VHNSS-IT (the Italian version of the Vanderbilt head and neck symptom survey) performed to assess both the feasibility and utility of its administration in clinical practice.


The outcomes analyzed were feasibility to recruit patients, feasibility to complete the questionnaire, feasibility to review the questionnaire, utility perceived by clinicians, distribution of patient’s answers reflecting symptom’s intensity.


Among the 38 patients enrolled, 37 completed the VHNSS-IT (refusal rate 2.6%). Median time of completion was 6′57″. Time of completion was influenced by age (p = 0.002), grade of education (p = 0.023) and employment status (p = 0.004). Time after the start of the radiotherapy course (< 6 months vs. > 6 months) and surgery (yes vs. no) influenced symptoms’ intensity. Median time for review was 2′15″. Time burden was perceived to be acceptable for all clinicians; they all also found the questionnaire easy to use. Rates of global perceived utility and future intention to use the questionnaire were 100%.


The VHNSS-IT has demonstrated to be a useful measurement of symptoms’ burden for patients with HNC. The survey can be easily completed during the clinic routine without interfering with doctors’ visits schedule, and it can help healthcare providers to identify symptoms that require referral, education or intervention.


Head and neck cancer Patient-reported outcome measure Symptoms screening 



This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Medical Radiology 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Maddalo
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Michela Buglione
    • 1
  • Nadia Pasinetti
    • 2
  • Luca Triggiani
    • 1
  • Ludovica Pegurri
    • 1
  • Alessandro Magli
    • 3
  • Stefano M. Magrini
    • 1
  • Barbara A. Murphy
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Radiation OncologyASST Spedali Civili di Brescia - Brescia UniversityBresciaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Radiation OncologyOspedale di Esine – ASL Vallecamonica-SebinoEsineItaly
  3. 3.Department of Radiation OncologyUniversity Hospital of Udine, ASUIUDUdineItaly
  4. 4.Department of MedicineVanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA
  5. 5.Department of Radiation OncologyBrescia University - Istituto del Radio “O. Alberti”, Spedali Civili HospitalBresciaItaly

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