Cancer Featured Research

Behind the Research: Why so many surveys?

graphic of lots of surveys

We know there are a lot of surveys when you come to the hospital. Our healthcare teams get asked about this a lot.

While we don’t want to over burden you with surveys, our cancer care and research teams use these tools to see how you are doing on your treatment path, what your life is like at home during and after treatments, and more.

When you are involved in a clinical trial, Quality of Life surveys are used at set points in your treatment to check-in with you about how the treatment is affecting your life.

And while these surveys might seem super simple, they are an extremely valuable tool as researchers work to test the effectiveness of a new treatment.

To determine if a treatment is effective, researchers look at two things: how the treatment affecting your cancer and how the treatment is affecting you as a person.

“We use medical tests, scans and bloodwork to see if a new treatment is effective at killing the cancer,” explained Jennifer Giordano, program manager of the Odette Cancer Centre Research Program. “And the Quality of Life surveys are tested tools for measuring your physical and mental well-being to determine how the treatment is affecting your life.”

This information is important when examining the effectiveness of a treatment, Jennifer added.

“If a new cancer drug is being tested, and it is shrinking your cancer and therefore prolonging your life, but you aren’t able to get out of bed, you cannot breathe and you aren’t able do any daily activities, is that treatment effective?” Jennifer asked. “That is why these surveys are so important to research — we want to make sure your life is also livable.”

The Quality of Life surveys ask about all aspects of your daily life, such as your energy, your ability to live independently, your emotional well-being and more. The data is collected at set times, and then entered into a database and analyzed. It’s all anonymous – your identity isn’t attached to the data.

The data is then used to inform future research and it helps physicians and patients assess the benefits and limitations of the treatment.

“The more people in a trial who complete the surveys help us to gather fulsome information about the treatment so we can better answer at the end – is this an effective treatment?” Jennifer said. “Trials guide new innovations and treatments, and the quality of life surveys are an important aspect of these trials. They give us a valuable look at how the treatment affects you as a person — and that’s a very important aspect of person-centred and personalized care.”

If you have a question about Quality of Life surveys or clinical trials, please speak to a member of your care team.

More information:

Cancer Clinical Trials at Sunnybrook

Participating in a clinical trial

About the author


Odette Cancer Centre Clinical Trials staff