Rare diseases can lead to a significant reduction in quality of life for patients and their families. Ensuring the patients voice is central to clinical decision making is key to delivering, evaluating and understanding the efficacy of therapeutic interventions. Patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) are used to capture the patient’s views about their health status and facilitate our understanding of the impact of these diseases and their treatments on patient’s quality of life and symptoms.
This review explores some of the current issues around the utilisation of PROMs in rare diseases, including small patient populations and dearth of valid PROMs. Difficulties in validating new or current PROMs for use in clinical trials and research are discussed. The review highlights potential solutions for some of the issues outlined in the review and the implementation of PROMs in research and clinical practice are discussed.
Patient input throughout the development of PROMs including qualitative research is essential to ensure that outcomes that matter to people living with rare disease are appropriately captured. Given the large number of rare diseases, small numbers of patients living with each condition and the cost of instrument development, creative and pragmatic solutions to PROM development and use may be necessary. Solutions include qualitative interviews, modern psychometrics and resources such as item banking and computer adaptive testing. Use of PROMs in rare disease research and clinical practice offers the potential to improve patient care and clinical outcomes.