Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are increasingly used in health care. To capture the patient’s perspective, patient involvement in PROM development is needed. As earlier research showed varying degrees of patient involvement in PROM development, this study aimed to investigate why PROM developers do or do not involve patients, how patients can be successfully involved and what the negative aspects and benefits of patient involvement are.
PROM developers who, according to an earlier scoping review, involved patients in at least two phases of PROM development or did not involve patients at all, were contacted for a telephone interview. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed using a general inductive approach.
From the PROM developers who involved patients, 21 developers were interviewed and three answered questions via e-mail. Most developers considered patient involvement necessary to create a valid questionnaire and relied on guidelines, personal experience and practical considerations for choosing a qualitative method. Negative aspects of patient involvement were mainly time investment and budget impact. One developer who did not involve patients was interviewed. Two developers sent back answers via e-mail. These developers did not involve patients because of limited resources or because no benefits were expected.
Although PROM developers agree that patient involvement is necessary, a lack of resources can be a stumbling block. Most developers rely on guidelines, personal experience or practical considerations for choosing a qualitative method. Although this may be a good place to start, to optimize patient involvement developers should explicitly think about which methods would suit their study.