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.
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