A patient's length of hospital admission is simple to measure, whilst their health related quality of life (HRQOL) is much more challenging. Similar clinical and demographic factors may exist between an increased length of stay (LOS) and a worse HRQOL outcome. The aim of this study was to assess whether LOS could serve as a proxy marker of HRQOL. One hundred and thirty consecutive patients with previously untreated oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma were recruited. All had primary surgery. The University of Washington questionnaire (UW-QOL) and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment core cancer questionnaire (EORTC C30) were self-completed preoperatively, after 6 months and 1 year. The median LOS following laser/primary closure/split skin grafts (21 patients) was 2 days compared to 16 days following microvascular free flap reconstruction (105 patients). In the free flap group the best predictors of LOS were age, tumour size and early medical/surgery complications. Patients with a LOS greater than 16 days (median) reported significantly worse chewing (P=0.008), swallowing (P=0.002) and cumulative UW-QOL score (P=0.01). No significant differences were seen in the EORTC C30. Length of stay is potentially a useful indicator of health related quality of life because it is linked by tumour size, however, the relationship is confounded by age, which tends to influence length of stay more than health related quality of life.
|International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
|Published - Jun 2001