Results Summary

What was the research about?

Sometimes patients don't tell their doctors about all of their symptoms. For example, they may not tell their doctors about having low energy or not sleeping well. These symptoms can be signs of a health problem. Knowing about symptoms can help doctors find ways to help patients feel better. Using patient-reported outcomes (PRO) surveys is one way for doctors to collect this information. These surveys ask how health problems and their treatments affect patients from the patients’ point of view. Filling out PRO surveys helps patients tell their doctors how they are feeling.

The research team wanted to know if giving doctors information from their patients about symptoms at the start of an office visit would lead to the patients feeling better. The team collected information from patients about their symptoms using PRO surveys. The surveys tracked five common symptoms: sleep problems, pain, anxiety, depression, and low energy.

What were the results?

Three months after the doctor visits, there was no difference in symptoms between patients whose doctors got survey information about patient symptoms and patients whose doctors didn’t get this information. There was no difference between the two groups in how much patients talked about their symptoms during doctors’ visits, how much patients wanted treatment for the symptoms, or how happy patients were with treatment for their symptoms. There was also no difference between the groups in how often doctors made notes about patients’ symptoms in the patients’ medical records or how much care patients got for their symptoms.

Who was in the study?

The research study included 300 adult patients. The patients got care at primary care clinics in Indianapolis, Indiana. The patients had medium to severe sleep problems, pain, anxiety, depression, or low energy. About 70 percent of patients were female. Forty-nine percent of patients were African American, 45 percent were white, and 6 percent were from other races.

What did the research team do?

Patients took PRO surveys before seeing their doctors. The research team then assigned patients to one of two groups by chance. In the first group, each patient’s doctor saw survey information about the patient’s symptoms at the start of the office visit. In the second group, each patient’s doctor did not see this information. The patients in both groups took the survey again three months after their doctor’s visit. At the same time, patients took another survey that asked if they had talked to their doctors about their symptoms, how much they wanted treatment for their symptoms, and how happy they were with treatment for their symptoms. The research team checked if doctors wrote the symptoms in patients’ medical records and any notes about what they did to help improve the symptoms.

The research team worked with a group of patients to help decide how to show doctors information from the PRO surveys. Doctors from the primary care clinics helped the research team enroll patients in the study.

What were the limits of the study?

Some of the doctors saw patients from both study groups. Seeing PRO survey information for patients in the first group could have caused these doctors to ask patients in the second group about their symptoms. This may have led to there being no differences in the results between groups. Also, some patients may not have remembered their doctor visits accurately when asked about them three months later. Also, 70 percent of patients in the study were female, 49 percent were African American, and all patients lived in one large city. The results may be different if the study included people from other backgrounds and locations.

How can people use the results?

Research teams can use the results to plan other studies to improve patient symptoms. For example, future studies could look at whether spending more time with patients during visits or training doctors to manage patient symptoms could improve patients’ health. 

Final Research Report

View this project's final research report.

Peer-Review Summary

Peer review of PCORI-funded research helps make sure the report presents complete, balanced, and useful information about the research. It also confirms that the research has followed PCORI’s Methodology Standards. During peer review, experts who were not members of the research team read a draft report of the research. These experts may include a scientist focused on the research topic, a specialist in research methods, a patient or caregiver, and a healthcare professional. Reviewers do not have conflicts of interest with the study.

The peer reviewers point out where the draft report may need revision. For example, they may suggest ways to improve how the research team analyzed its results or reported its conclusions. Learn more about PCORI’s peer review process here.

In response to peer review, the PI made changes including

  • Adding more detail about how missing data were handled in the study
  • Editing the Abstract for clarity
  • Removing discussion of patient and clinician study participants from the section engagement of patients and other stakeholders as study partners
  • Expanding the discussion of potential limitations of the study

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Project Information

Kurt Kroenke, MD
Indiana University
$636,939 *
Incorporating PROMIS Symptom Measures into Primary Care Practice

Key Dates

September 2014
August 2017

Study Registration Information

Final Research Report

View this project's final research report.

Journal Articles


Has Results
Award Type
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: January 20, 2023