Mission of the Outcomes Research Branch
The mission of the Outcomes Research Branch (ORB), one of three branches in the Applied Research Program (ARP) (see the
attached organization chart), is to coordinate and sponsor
research to measure, evaluate, and improve patient-centered outcomes of cancer care
delivery across the cancer care continuum. ORB is particularly interested in morbidity and
mortality outcomes, patient symptoms and health-related quality of life (HRQOL), patient
experience of and satisfaction with health care, and social and economic consequences of
ORB supports both methodological and applied research directed toward a variety of
- enhancing the state of the science of outcomes measurement;
- assessing, monitoring, and enhancing the quality of cancer care at all levels -- the
provider-patient interaction, the health care organization, and the health care system;
- translating research findings into care delivery products and strategies for use by
public and private decision makers, who provide, pay for, regulate, set standards for, and
make personal decisions about cancer care; and
- evaluating innovative programs designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency
of providing evidence-based practice throughout the cancer care continuum.
The Emerging Field of Outcomes Research
Cancer outcomes research is a relatively new field, and Outcomes Research staff have
worked on a number of ways to help define the field and assist researchers to come to a
common understanding of its parameters and conceptual underpinnings. These efforts
- In 2004, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute released a monograph, Cancer Outcomes Research: The Arenas of
Application, analyzing recent literature in cancer outcomes research. The volume
highlights and illustrates a wide range of applications of cancer outcome measures, and
provides a significant boost to efforts to delineate this field.
- In 2005, Cambridge University Press published a book, Outcomes
Assessment in Cancer: Measures, Methods, and Applications. The book is a
compendium of outcomes assessment in cancer, covering applications throughout the
continuum of care, methods development, and research and policy implications.
- In 2007, the Journal of Clinical Oncology released an issue dedicated to Patient-Reported Outcomes Assessment in Clinical
Trials, assessing the NCI clinical research infrastructure, issues and
opportunities for improving the planning, design, methods, and implementation of PROs in
cancer clinical trials at all phases of development.
- In 2007, the NCI published a monograph, Patient-Centered Communication in Cancer
Care – Promoting Healing and Reducing Suffering to lay out the foundation for
future research that would help facilitate the delivery of patient centered communication
between cancer patients/family and the health care delivery team across the cancer
- In 2007, NCI sponsored a supplement in the Quality of Life Research Journal focused
on Applying Item Response Theory to Enhance
Health Outcomes Assessment. This journal provides guidance for the effective
application of modern measurement theory methods to develop valid, precise, and efficient
measures of patient symptoms and health-related quality of life.
Through a variety of initiatives and mechanisms, ORB supports the continued development
of outcomes research in all aspects of cancer care, ranging from cancer clinical trials,
observational research and surveillance studies of cancer prevention, early detection,
treatment, survivorship care, and end-of-life care.