Patients’ experience of recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and their perspective on the EORTC QLQC30 and QLQ-H&N35 questionnaires: a qualitative study

Arnold Degboe, Sarah L. Knight, Katarina Halling, Andrew Trigg, Tamara Al-Zubeidi, Natalie Aldhouse, Helen Kitchen, Lori Wirth, Simon Rogers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

    84 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and its associated treatments may affect all aspects of patients’ health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Although the EORTC QLQ-H&N35 is regularly administered to patients with HNSCC, there is a paucity of studies re-assessing the conceptual relevance of this patient-reported outcome (PRO) measure from a patient perspective. Furthermore, the content validity of the EORTC QLQ-C30 has not been widely documented in patients with recurrent and/or metastatic HNSCC. The objectives of this study were to understand patients’ experiences of recurrent/metastatic HNSCC and its treatments, and to evaluate the conceptual relevance and acceptability of the EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-H&N35 from a patient perspective for use in clinical trials. Methods: A literature review and clinician interviews were conducted to inform in-depth semi-structured telephone interviews with US patients who had received treatment for recurrent and/or metastatic HNSCC in the preceding 12 months. Interview transcripts were analysed thematically using ATLAS.ti v7; patient quotes were coded to identify concepts and themes to develop a conceptual model of HNSCC experience. Results: Fourteen patients were interviewed (71% male, aged 35–84 years). Patients reported few symptoms prediagnosis including neck lump/swelling (n = 7/14, 50%) and/or difficulty swallowing (n = 3/14, 21%). Treatments generally comprised surgery and chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. A number of side effects from all treatments were reported. Numbness, difficulty speaking and pain were the most reported side effects of surgery (n = 4/8, 50%); weight loss and fatigue were the most reported side effects of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy (n = 8/13, 61%). All side effects negatively impacted patients’ HRQoL. Patients generally found the QLQ-C30 and QLQ H&N35 content to be understandable and conceptually relevant; excessive mucous production and neuropathic symptoms were among the suggested additions. Conclusions: HNSCC and its diverse symptoms and treatments have a negative impact on many aspects of patients’ lives. A number of reported symptoms including difficulty speaking and swallowing, localised pain and fatigue may be important for treatment benefit evaluation in clinical trials from a patient perspective. The QLQ-C30 and QLQ-H&N35 are generally relevant and suitable for use in clinical trials. However, some items could be amended/added to ensure conceptual comprehensiveness of these measures
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Patient-Reported Outcomes
    Issue number33
    Early online date1 Aug 2018
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Aug 2018


    • Qualitative interviews
    • Head and neck cancer
    • HNSCC
    • Oncology
    • Patient reported outcome
    • EORTC QLQ-C30
    • EORTC QLQ-H&N35
    • Disease conceptual model


    Dive into the research topics of 'Patients’ experience of recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and their perspective on the EORTC QLQC30 and QLQ-H&N35 questionnaires: a qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this