Population-based standardized symptom screening: Cancer Care Ontario’s Edmonton Symptom Assessment System and performance status initiatives. Academic Article uri icon

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  • 56 Background: The goal of the collaborative is to improve the quality and consistency of physical and emotional symptom management across the cancer journey. Objectives are: (a) promote the adoption of electronic symptom assessment using a standardized tool and (b) increase the clinical use of evidence based guidelines to effectively manage patient identified symptoms. Methods: The actions taken for this initiative are to manage cancer symptoms through a patient reported measurement tool; improve the quality of symptom management through the uptake of symptom management guides and algorithms for care; and drive improvement through the adoption of an electronic symptom assessment platform The following aims were established for this work: (1) Aim for symptom screening and assessment (70% of ambulatory cancer clinic patients are screened for symptom severity using ESAS at least once/month) (2) aim for symptom management (evidence from chart audits show intervention as per evidence based guidelines for patients reported symptom scores) (3) aim for patient satisfaction (90% of target population indicates that their health care team took their scores into consideration when developing a care plan) and (4) aim for evidence of use (90% of patients state that their doctor or nurse spoke with them about their symptom screen). Results: 60% of cancer patients are screened each month representing over 28,000 people. Six of fourteen cancer regions are above the provincial target of 70%, with some close to 90%. 92% of patients felt ESAS was important to complete to help health care providers know how they are feeling. Conclusions: Cancer Care Ontario has been able to drive improvements in symptom management through the implementation of system wide electronic symptom assessment. For other jurisdictions interested in adopting this approach, the following areas are critical for success. (a.) Leadership at all levels of the system; (b.) clinical tools at the point of care; (c) engagement of patients in the design of care; (d) communications support to spread information to all stakeholders; and (e) using to data to drive performance improvement and accountability.


  • Molloy, Sean
  • Pereira, Jose
  • Green, Esther
  • Dudgeon, Deborah Jane
  • Howell, Doris
  • Krzyzanowska, Monika K
  • Mahase, Wenonah
  • Tabing, Reena
  • Urowitz, Sara
  • Macdougall, Laura

publication date

  • October 20, 2014