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Approved Research

Understanding the influence of ethnicity & culture on patient reporting of health outcomes

Principal Investigator: Dr Robin Lerner
Approved Research ID: 88687
Approval date: August 9th 2022

Lay summary

When doctors are trying to work out the best way to treat a disease, they often ask patients about their health before and after a treatment and compare the answers to those from patients treated another way. These questions about general health and quality of life are helpful because measuring changes in patients' quality of life is one of the main ways that treatments are judged work well or not.

These questionnaires are subjective, meaning that for the same illness one person might rate their health as an B+, while another person might mark it as a D-. You might recognise this phenomenon if your friend has ever had the same cold symptoms as you, but claimed to feel much worse.

Patient-reported outcomes vary depending on factors like age and sex, and people's expectations of their health. As people age they expect their health to decline, meaning that the same injury - say a broken hip - might feel to a younger person like a much bigger change in their quality of life. We suspect that these expectations of health are also influenced by culture and ethnicity, but not much is known about this. For example, more elderly British South Asian patients stay in the family home as they get older. This means that the impact on quality of life from a loss in mobility might be different between British South Asian people and Caucasian people.

This project will take about a year, and will look at common health and quality of life questionnaires and see whether there are any differences in how people report of different ethnicities report good and bad health. This will tell us whether the same questionnaires work well for everyone, or if scientists need to analyse the results differently depending on who fills in the questionnaire.

Understanding how to listen to patients telling us about their health and quality of life is important when making decisions about treatments. This project will also help researchers to understand how the ethnicity of their study participants might influence the results of their research. This will help researchers analyse the results better, which will help doctors and policy makers to make decisions that are better for their patients.