Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive illness, and getting treatment as soon as possible is often crucial to improving a person’s prognosis. However, symptoms of MPM are similar to other, more common illnesses, and measuring the severity of symptoms can be difficult.
Thus, efforts to improve symptom assessments could be of considerable benefit to patients. One method that is showing promise is the mixed-methods approach.
Assessing qualitative and quantitative components
A recent study suggests that existing scales doctors use to assess and measure symptoms may not adequately capture symptoms or their severity in patients with MPM. For instance, the Lung Cancer Symptom Scale for Mesothelioma (LCSS-Meso) can reportedly miss symptoms. It can also reflect under or overreporting symptoms.
Thus, researchers in a pilot wanted to use multiple methods to assess patients with MPM. In addition to using the LCSS-Meso scale, they also conducted interviews with patients. These semistructured sessions allowed participants and researchers to explain symptoms. And patients could discuss their personal experiences.
Through the course of these interviews, researchers found that distress and sleep disturbance were common in participants, but such symptoms are not part of the LCSS-Meso scale.
They also found discrepancies between the severity of symptoms determined by the scale and what patients actually experience.
In other words, using both a quantitative scale and qualitative interviews helped researchers better measure and understand MPM symptoms.
What does this mean for people with MPM?
While this was a small pilot of just seven participants, any progress in understanding the impact mesothelioma has on people is valuable. Improved insight into symptoms could mean more specialized treatments, better care and advancements in diagnoses.
Further, this information can also help in the legal context by more thoroughly acknowledging the degree to which mesothelioma affects patients and families. As a result, it could be easier to maximize compensation for damages when individuals pursue financial remedies.