The use of the Rotterdam symptom checklist in palliative care
The Rotterdam Symptom Checklist (RSCL), which measures both physical and psychological aspects of quality of life (QOL), was given to all new patients admitted to a palliative care unit who were thought capable of filling out a questionnaire as an outcome measure of symptom control. Assessments were obtained from 52 patients at baseline (week 1). This represented only 53% of the new patients admitted to the unit. Thirty-one patients completed a second questionnaire at week 2, and only 28 patients completed a third (week 3). In these selected patients, the median overall RSCL scores were 57, 52, and 49 at weeks 1, 2, and 3. There was a significant improvement in QOL scores across the three measurements with a significant difference between weeks 1 and 3 (P = 0.05) but not between weeks 1 and 2. Primarily because of the inability of many patients to complete the questionnaire and the high attrition rate, the appropriateness of this tool as a symptom control measure in palliative care patients is questioned.