Should analyses of large, national palliative care data sets with patient reported outcomes (PROs) be restricted to services with high patient participation? A register-based study
BMC Palliative Care
There is an increased interest in the analysis of large, national palliative care data sets including patient reported outcomes (PROs). No study has investigated if it was best to include or exclude data from services with low response rates in order to obtain the patient reported outcomes most representative of the national palliative care population. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate whether services with low response rates should be excluded from analyses to prevent effects of
... revent effects of possible selection bias. Data from the Danish Palliative Care Database from 24,589 specialized palliative care admittances of cancer patients was included. Patients reported ten aspects of quality of life using the EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL-questionnaire. Multiple linear regression was performed to test if response rate was associated with the ten aspects of quality of life. The score of six quality of life aspects were significantly associated with response rate. However, in only two cases patients from specialized palliative care services with lower response rates (< 20.0%, 20.0-29.9%, 30.0-39.9%, 40.0-49.9% or 50.0-59.9) were feeling better than patients from services with high response rates (≥60%) and in both cases it was less than 2 points on a 0-100 scale. The study hypothesis, that patients from specialized palliative care services with lower response rates were reporting better quality of life than those from specialized palliative care services with high response rates, was not supported. This suggests that there is no reason to exclude data from specialized palliative care services with low response rates.