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Patient-reported outcomes and experience measures (jointly referred to here as PROs) are internationally recognized as a means for patients to provide information about their quality of life, symptoms, and experiences with care. Although increasingly recognized as key to improving the quality of healthcare at individual (e.g., patients, caregivers, and providers) and aggregate (e.g., government, policy/system-wide decision-making) levels, there are important knowledge gaps in our understanding of how PROs are, and can be, used across different settings, particularly in nephrology to enhance person-centered care. This knowledge is needed for developing strategies to guide optimal use of PROs in nephrology care. Currently, no strategies exist. The purpose of this review is to address this knowledge gap by answering the following realist question: How can PROs be used to enhance person-centered nephrology care, both at individual and aggregate levels?
Realist synthesis is an explanatory approach to data synthesis that aims to explain how context and mechanisms influence the outcome of an intervention. An initial program theory will be developed through the systematic search of the published literature in bibliographic databases (Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid Embase, EBSCOhost CINAHL, Web of Science, and Scopus) on existing theories explaining how PROs are used in healthcare settings. This initial program theory will then be tested and refined through the process of realist synthesis, using context-mechanism-outcome configurations. A kidney-specific program theory will then be created to address the utilization of PROs in nephrology across individual and aggregate levels to augment person-centered care. Searching will be iterative and refined as data is extracted and analyzed using a pilot-tested context + mechanism = outcome heuristic. Throughout, we will consult methodological experts, research team practitioners, and the Patient Advisory Committee to help refine the theories. Last, we will develop and disseminate knowledge translation products widely to knowledge user groups.
The utilization of PROs remains a challenge in nephrology. The findings from this synthesis will provide a framework to guide both policy makers and practitioners on how to enhance person-centered care through successful utilization of PROs across individual and aggregate levels in nephrology.
Systematic review registration