Quality Measures for Supportive Cancer Care: The Cancer Quality-ASSIST Project

Karl A. Lorenz, Sydney M. Dy, Arash Naeim, Anne M. Walling, Homayoon Sanati, Patricia Smith, Roberta Shanman, Carol P. Roth, Steven M. Asch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Patients and physicians often cite symptom control as one of their most important goals in cancer care. Despite this, a previous systematic review found few tools for evaluating the quality of supportive cancer management. We developed a comprehensive set of quality indicators for evaluating pain and nonpain symptom management as well as care planning needs in cancer patients. Based on the prevalence and quality-of-life data, clinician-researchers prioritized pain, psychosocial distress, dyspnea, nausea and vomiting, fatigue and anorexia, treatment-associated toxicities, and information and care planning for quality-indicator development. Using search terms and selection criteria, we identified English-language documents from Medline (1997-2007) and Internet-based searches. Based on this evidence, clinician-reviewers proposed process quality indicators. We then used the VA Health Services Research and Development (VA HSR & D) appropriateness methods to compile the ratings of a multidisciplinary, international expert panel of the validity and feasibility of each indicator. The panel judged 92 out of 133 (69%) proposed quality indicators valid and feasible (15 out of 23 pain, 5 out of 6 depression, 8 out of 11 dyspnea, 15 out of 19 nausea and vomiting, 13 out of 26 fatigue and anorexia, 23 out of 32 other treatment-associated toxicities, and 13 out of 16 information and care planning). Of the final indicators, 67 are potentially useful for inpatient and 81 for outpatient evaluation, and 26 address screening, 12 diagnostic evaluation, 20 management, and 21 follow-up. These quality indicators provide evidence-explicit tools for measuring processes critical to ensuring high-quality supportive cancer care. Research is needed to characterize adherence to recommended practices and to evaluate the use of these measures in quality improvement efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)943-964
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Quality of care
  • cancer
  • palliative care
  • supportive care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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