Attitudes, perceptions, and use of quality of life information in research and practice: Results of a survey of neuropsychologists
Cieply, Kyle R.
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Objective. To assess neuropsychologists' attitudes and use of Quality of Life (QoL) data in patient assessment and management. Method. A web-based survey including demographics and items adapted from prior studies of professional attitudes toward QoL in oncology, psychiatry, and pharmacy was developed. Forty eight neuropsychologists completed the survey in response to invitations to the npsych.com and AACN list serves. The sample was 50% female with a mean of just under the age of 45 years old ( SD =10.1). Geographic location was primarily USA ( n =40) with a small number from Canada ( n =5) and Europe (n=3). The sample was almost split evenly between individuals with no certification (56%) and neuropsychologists with some form of certification (44%). Membership in professional organizations included NAN (65%), INS (65%), and Division 40 (63%). Results. Nearly all respondents reported that they discuss QoL issues with patients (94%), over half (58%) indicating that these discussions happen "often." In addition, 83% of respondents indicated that they assess QoL, with nearly half (46%) using objective standardized measures and the remainder utilizing interviews. 40% of the respondents reported that they often read studies reporting QoL findings, however 60% also indicated that they would be more likely to use QoL data in practice if measures were easier to understand. Correlations between percent of time in various professional activities with attitudes produced several significant findings; for example, time spent in clinical research was significantly correlated with use of QoL measures ( r =.38, p =.01). Patterns of QoL assessment were generally unrelated to the demographic characteristics of the sample. A preliminary comparison of the results of the neuropsychologists of the present study and the oncologists of Bezjak and colleagues' (2001) study found similarities in attitude and use. Conclusions. This is the first study to examine neuropsychologists' attitudes toward QoL assessment. Overall, attitudes and behavior in this sample were quite positive, but room for improvement in more user-friendly measures is evident as well.