Outcomes research is an area of public health research that focuses on studying the results of the impact healthcare processes and structures have on the health outcomes of individual patients or populations. Since health outcomes can vary from complete recovery to mortality, studying these tangible events concerning the processes that occurred before them occurring is crucial.
Example: Gout Patients
An example of outcomes research can be found in the article by Tatlock et al. (2016) that focused on finding out the most important outcomes for gout patients. Gout is an inflammatory type of arthritis characterized by redness, joint pain, and swelling that substantially impact the quality of life (Smith, Diaz-Torne, Perez-Ruiz, & March 2010). With the involvement of a patient-centered approach, researchers analyzed the manifestation of gout and assessed the validity of the reported patient outcomes (Tatlock et al., 2016). Clinical interviews and qualitative digital ethnography showed that patient outcomes were undermining patients’ physical functioning, sleeping patterns, as well as daily work and social activities.
The focus on a patient was the theme of the mentioned outcomes research since it allowed scientists to determine the burden of gout, find out whether administered medications were effective, and evaluate the complications that appeared from a procedure or intervention. Medical decision-making was significantly influenced by findings that traditional patient interviews should remain key in outcomes research; however, the incorporation of qualitative data gave researchers stronger validity and provided with additional information about the experiences of patients with both non- and tophaceous gout, especially in the realm of the severity of their symptoms and outcomes (Tatlock et al., 2016). An issue of concern with regards to the outcomes research was associated with the fact that most patients with gout had been diagnosed and treated in primary care settings, in which the recommendations of generalists and specialists with regards to gout management could differ (AHRQ, 2014). Therefore, a unified guideline as to the treatment of gout should be a step forwards in improving the reported outcomes.
Why Patient-Centered Care?
Patient-centered care is a concept that was heavily studied in the outcomes research since it is directly associated with measuring the quality of the provided health care services and determining whether a care provider was efficient in fulfilling the assigned duties (Greene, Tuzzio, & Cherkin, 2012). Because many gout patients reported the lack of productivity and fatigue as accompanying symptoms of the disease, the role of the healthcare provider was to develop a cohesive action plan of how patients could be supported in their everyday activities as well as what medication and treatment would be administered for relieving the symptoms. Since outcomes research was based predominantly on patient interviews and qualitative data acquired from questionnaires, the success of the implemented action plan can also be measured by these means to conduct a comparative analysis of the initial and post-intervention outcomes among gout patients.
Outcomes research has proven to be an effective method for studying patient outcomes from disease and illness and determining what future strategies can elevate the burden of illness and improve the overall well-being. Patient-centeredness played a crucial role in the example with gout patients and provided researchers with reliable and valid data with regards to symptoms that accompany the illness, which significantly limits patients’ productivity, sleeping patterns, and physical abilities.
AHRQ. (2014). Management of gout. Web.
Greene, S., Tuzzio, L., & Cherkin, D. (2012). A framework for making patient-centered care front and center. The Permanente Journal, 16(3), 49-53.
Smith, E., Diaz-Torne, C., Perez-Ruiz, F., & March, L. (2010). Epidemiology of gout: An update. Clinical Rheumatology, 24(6), 811-827.
Tatlock, S., Rudel, K., Panter, C., Arbuckle, R., Harrold, L., Taylor, W., & Symonds, T. (2017). What outcomes are important for gout patients? In-depth qualitative research into the gout patient experience to determine optimal endpoints for evaluating therapeutic interventions. Patient, 10, 65-79.