The Journal of Laryngology & Otology

Main Articles

Effect of oral tumour size on quality of life judgements by health care professionals working with head and neck cancer patients: a pilot study

K Reida1 c1, C Hicksa2, S Herron-Marxa3 and S Parmara1

a1 Head and Neck Unit, University Hospital Birmingham National Health Service Foundation Trust, UK

a2 School of Health Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK

a3 National Health Service Centre for Involvement, Warwick University, UK


Aim: To investigate whether information about the size of an oral tumour influences the multi-disciplinary team's judgement about the quality of life of head and neck cancer patients.

Method: Using a between-group design, two groups of health care professionals rated a hypothetical patient on 20 outcome variables. The patient description was identical for both groups, except for the tumour size.

Results: Comparison of variable ratings revealed only three significant differences between the groups' predictions and no consistency within conditions, suggesting that the participants held few common assumptions about the impact of tumour size on a range of patient experiences.

Conclusion: The lack of agreement amongst the health care professionals suggests that, where humane judgements are used in treatment decisions for head and neck cancer patients, these may be random and inconsistent. Consequently, patients should have a direct input into treatment decisions, via formalised quality of life data.

(Accepted May 08 2009)

(Online publication September 18 2009)


c1 Address for correspondence: Ms Kate Reid, Head and Neck Unit, University Hospital Birmingham NHSFT, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TH, UK. E-mail:


Ms K Reid takes responsibility for the integrity of the content of the paper.

Competing interests: None declared