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Primary care physician’s (PCP) perceived value of patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in clinical practice: a mixed methods study


Background Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) can promote patient engagement, shared-decision making and improve the overall experience of care. However, PRO integration in the primary care clinical setting is limited. Exploring the perspectives of primary care physicians (PCPs) on PROs is key to understanding how they are being used in the clinical setting. We sought to elucidate this clinical perspective at one of the largest US health systems that has integrated a wide range of PROs into routine primary care.

Methods Mixed methods study with both anonymous online surveys and in-person qualitative semistructured interviews conducted with PCPs to understand their clinical perspectives on the applications of the existing PROs. PCPs from the 19 affiliated clinics were prompted to complete the survey. Interviewed PCPs were selected via a combination of random and purposive selection from the PCP directory.

Results Of 172 PCPs, 117 (68%) completed the online survey and 28 completed semistructured interviews. Most PCPs (77%) reviewed PRO responses with their patients. PCPs endorsed that PROs improve clinic efficiency and clinical management. However, PCPs have heterogeneous perspectives on the relevance of PROs in clinical practice, likely due to variations in clinic practice. For specific PRO instruments, PCPs reported anxiety and depression screening PROs to be most helpful. PCPs felt that PROs assisted with completing screening questions that are required by regulatory bodies. Barriers to using PROs include poor user-interface for both clinicians and patients and inadequate training.

Conclusions Most PCPs regularly use PRO data though there are mixed opinions about their clinical relevance. An adaptable, user-friendly PRO system has the potential to have meaningful clinical applications in primary care.

  • primary care
  • implementation science
  • patient-centred care
  • quality improvement
  • qualitative research

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Deidentified data will be made available to those who request it for one year after the publication from the corresponding author.

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