Treichler EBH, Cardoso L, Du Y, Nungaray J, Hochberger WC, Joshi YB, Sprock J, Cohen AN, Light GA. Contextualizing the road to recovery: A novel method of assessing outcome trajectories in clinical trials. Psychological Services. 2020 Jul 13.
Abstract: In clinical trials, standardized assessment conducted by research staff facilitates identification of treatment benefit. Narrative notes completed by clinicians offer a novel source to characterize and contextualize outcomes. In this study, we examine qualitative analysis of clinical notes as a method to augment quantitative outcome measures and supply meaningful context in clinical trials. Two hundred eighty-four clinical progress notes from 19 participants with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder assigned to receive either auditory-targeted cognitive training or treatment as usual were included. Qualitative analysis of weekly progress notes written by clinicians involved in ongoing care of the participants was used to identify overall outcome trajectories and specific changes in program participation, social functioning, and symptom severity. Trajectories were compared with the parent study''s 2 primary outcome measures. Qualitative analysis identified personalized and complex trajectories for individual participants. Approximately half the participants improved overall. Most participants displayed improved program participation and social functioning, whereas most participants experienced symptom deterioration. Engagement in targeted cognitive training did not impact change in trajectories. Qualitative trajectories were congruent (e.g., both indicated improvement) with the 2 primary outcome measures for 26-36% of the participants depending on the comparison. Including qualitative analysis of clinician progress notes provides useful context and identifies underlying processes not captured in quantitative data. However, they cannot replace quantitative outcome measurement. Better alignment with clinician- and patient-targeted outcomes may strengthen clinical trials. Qualitative analysis of routinely collected data can benefit research and programmatic decision making in usual care settings. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).