Economic and Quality of Life Outcomes in Oncology

Economic and Quality of Life Outcomes in Oncology

This publication is the fourth in a series of quality of life symposia proceedings. The title of our first
symposium, which took place in 1989, was "Quality of Life in Current Oncology Practice and
Research." In the foreword to the first proceedings, we indicated that a gap in information and
communication had evolved between social scientists (who developed quality of life measures) and
clinicians. Our first symposium and its publication was designed to help fill this gap, bringing social
scientists and clinicians together to encourage them to interact and combine their resources. As an
appendix to the publication, we included quality of life measurement scales.

Over the last several years, a similar gap of communication and information has developed, this
time between clinicians and social scientists on one hand and economists, health care
administrators, and policy makers on the other. Our fourth symposium and these proceedings are
intended to again help fill this gap with an interface that links the clinician/provider with those who
study the economics of medicine and also with those who need to interpret the results of economic
studies to make decisions about payment and policy making.

To this end, we have brought together clinicians, social scientists, economists, major health care
plan administrators, attorneys, managed care and pharmaceutical company executives, as well as
government administrators. As can be seen in the Table of Contents, a wide variety of subjects is
presented by experts from different disciplines with a general focus on economic outcomes in
cancer care.

Over the last 10 years, there has been a marked increase in the number of cancer clinical trials that
include quality of life evaluations. We would like to believe that our first
symposium and its publication contributed to some extent to that increase.

Similarly, economic endpoints or outcomes are currently part of very few ongoing clinical trials. We
believe that this is partly due to lack of information about the nature of economic studies, available
resources and tools, and methods of evaluating results on the part of clinicians. We hope that this
publication will help increase the awareness of oncologists and others regarding the need for
economic as well as quality of life measurements to be part of oncology research and practice
decisions on an ongoing bases. Involvement by clinicians in the process of economic outcome
evaluations is crucial if we are to intelligently participate in all aspects of health care delivery.

For many readers, these proceedings will provide rather interesting data ranging from cancer care
expenditures in the nation to comparisons between costs of oncology therapies versus therapies in
other specialties.

Many readers will be surprised when they are presented with comparisons of cost-effectiveness
between a variety of cancer therapies (often perceived as toxic, costly, and ineffective) versus other
accepted medical practices, such as the treatment of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, or
coronary artery disease.


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