Quality of Life Research

, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 979–985 | Cite as

A knowledge translation challenge: clinical use of quality of life data from cancer clinical trials

  • Michael Brundage
  • Brenda Bass
  • Ringash Jolie
  • Kimberley Foley



Measurement and reporting of health-related quality of life (HRQL) data have evolved considerably over the past 10 years. Our goal was to identify the current barriers to, and enablers of, the effective translation of HRQL outcome data from randomized clinical trials by investigating physician attitudes, knowledge, and education needs.


We undertook a mixed qualitative and quantitative study of 33 oncologists’ attitudes and educational needs around the value, interpretation, and application of HRQL data from cancer clinical trials. The approach was designed to identify barriers and enablers relating to the characteristics of the knowledge itself, to the potential users of the knowledge, and to the environment in which the knowledge is used.


The majority of barriers and enablers identified were “second order”, i.e., related to the understandability and generalizability of the data, its presentation, its accessibility within the medical literature, and its relevance to specific patient populations.


Our results suggest knowledge translation (KT) of HRQL results would improve if the clinical trial HRQL data were easily accessible to clinicians, and presented in a comprehensible and clinically applicable format, which includes discussion of the relevance of the measurement domains and implications of the findings. We recommend that standards of clinical trial HRQL reporting be implemented in clinical journals.


Quality of life Patient-reported outcomes HRQL Knowledge translation Randomized clinical trials 



Quality of life


Health-related quality of life


Randomized clinical trial


Knowledge translation



We acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Andrea Bezjak, Dr. Joyce Nyhof-Young, Dr. Shayna Watson, Dr. Anna Wilkinson, and Dr. Deb Feldman-Stewart in discussions regarding the KT framework used in this study. This study was funded through the generous support of the Clare Nelson Bequest of the Kingston General Hospital.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Brundage
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Brenda Bass
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ringash Jolie
    • 4
    • 5
  • Kimberley Foley
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Cancer Care and Epidemiology, Level 2Queen’s Cancer Research InstituteKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Kingston General HospitalKingstonCanada
  3. 3.Queen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  4. 4.Department of Radiation OncologyThe Princess Margaret HospitalTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Department of Radiation OncologyThe University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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