Clinical outcomes of surgery and patient-reported outcomes of function, disability, and health status are two different measures of surgical success.
A large study of patients who had bariatric surgery showed that patient-reported outcomes were correlated with long-term weight loss but not with short-term complication rates. In addition, obesity-specific patient-reported quality of life scores were associated with a reduction in medications required for the treatment of obesity-related conditions.
“Clinical outcomes, such as perioperative morbidity and mortality, are commonly used to benchmark hospital performance,” reported Jennifer F. Waljee, MD, and her associates at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Surg. 2016. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000001852).
“However, for many surgical procedures, such as bariatric surgery ... complications may be rare, and may not entirely reflect treatment effectiveness. Alternatively, patient-reported measures of function, disability, and health status may offer a unique and more reliable assessment of provider quality and performance,” she explained. Yet despite growing interest in using patient-reported measures, many important questions regarding their accuracy, applicability, and clinical utility remain. The purpose of this study was, therefore, to evaluate how patient-reported quality of life measures compared to short-term and long-term clinical outcomes in patients who underwent bariatric surgery.
The majority of the study’s 11,420 participants were female (79.8%), were white (84.1%), and underwent Roux-en-Y laparoscopic gastric bypass (56.8%). For each study participant, both short-term and long-term clinical outcome measures were obtained from medical board review. Short-term clinical outcomes were defined as the rate of perioperative complications within 30 days of bariatric surgery. Percent excess weight loss at 1 year post surgery was used as a long-term clinical outcome.
In addition, two patient-reported outcomes were collected: an overall health-related quality of life score called the Health and Activities Limitations Index (HALex) and an obesity-specific quality of life score, the Bariatric Quality of Life (BQL) index, which measures well-being, social and physical functioning, and obesity-related symptoms.
Multivariate and linear regression models demonstrated that short-term complication rates were not correlated to the overall patient-reported quality of life score (P = .32) or to the obesity-specific BQL score (P = .74).
However, the long-term measure of excess weight loss at 1 year post surgery was significantly associated with both overall and obesity-specific patient-reported measures of health-related quality of life (P less than .002 and P less than .001 respectively).
Moreover, scores indicating improved quality of life were associated with greater weight loss.
Finally, comorbidity resolution, estimated by the reduction in the use of medications taken to treat conditions related to obesity, was significantly associated with the obesity-specific measure, BQL, but not the overall quality of life measure, HALex.
“In conclusion, [patient-reported outcomes] are distinct from clinical outcomes,” investigators wrote. Patient-reported outcomes “provide an opportunity for improved population-based cost-effectiveness analyses using outcomes germane to procedures performed for symptomatology and improving QOL,” they added.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality supported the research. The investigators reported having no disclosures.
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