A Qualitative Protocol for a Patient Preference Study among Lung Cancer Patients


Lung cancer is the most prevalent cancer worldwide. And the deadliest. Treatments have different characteristics, all associated with a range of risks and benefits to patients. A new PREFER publication outlines the value of using a qualitative approach with advanced lung cancer patients to identify preferred treatment characteristics. With the aim of informing decision-making for the companies that develop medicines, regulators, payers as well as clinicians. 

Patient preferences can inform decisions across the drug life cycle. A recent PREFER publication introduces a study protocol that outlines methodological and practical steps for how qualitative research can be applied to identify and develop attributes and levels to include in patient preference studies. Attributes may include different types of benefits and risks associated with treatments and other clinical and non-clinical aspects that might influence whether patients would want or accept a certain treatment. Examples of attributes are treatment benefits (e.g., survival or tumor reduction in the case of cancer) or treatment risks (side effects such as nausea, diarrhea).

The authors’ qualitative protocol includes four phases to determine the attributes included in a preference study:

  1. A scoping literature review
  2. Initial focus group discussions
  3. Additional focus group discussions using nominal group technique
  4. Multi-stakeholder discussions

“Our hope is that this protocol can help researchers, drug developers, and decision-makers as they are designing qualitative studies to understand what treatment aspects are most valued by patients” say Rosanne Janssens and Ilaria Durosini, two of the authors.

The results of this study will inform a subsequent quantitative preference survey that assesses patient trade-offs regarding lung cancer treatment options.

By Anna Holm

Durosini I, Janssens R et al, Patient Preferences for Lung Cancer Treatment: A Qualitative Study Protocol Among Advanced Lung Cancer Patients, Frontiers in Public Health, 5 February 2021, DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.622154

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Last modified: 2021-11-10