The characteristics and effectiveness of Question Prompt List interventions in oncology: a systematic review of the literature


Objective: Question Prompt Lists (QPLs) have been used extensively in the oncology setting to improve communication, psychological and/or cognitive outcomes. In this systematic review, the objectives were to (a) examine the methodological quality of QPL interventions, (b) review the effectiveness of QPL interventions on communication, psychological and/or cognitive outcomes of cancer patients, (c) gain more insight into the characteristics of QPL interventions (e.g., the number and content of questions, and the mode of delivery) and (d) explore whether the effectiveness of QPL interventions might be explained by their characteristics.

Method A systematic literature search was conducted in PsycINFO, Medline, CINAHL and CENTRAL. Empirical studies that investigated the use and effectiveness of QPL interventions in an oncology setting were included. The methodological quality of the included studies was assessed using the Cochrane method.

Results Sixteen articles met the inclusion criteria. Results indicated evidence for the effectiveness of QPL interventions in enhancing patient participation (i.e., question asking). Furthermore, there was evidence that QPL interventions can influence psychological outcomes (i.e., anxiety at follow‐up) and cognitive outcomes (i.e., recall of information). The majority of QPL interventions were given to patients before their consultation in hardcopy. In most studies, QPLs were combined with other intervention components. It is suggested that characteristics of a QPL intervention (i.e., the number of questions on a QPL and provider training) can influence its effectiveness.

Conclusion Question Prompt List interventions are effective in improving communication, psychological and cognitive outcomes of cancer patients. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.