New Portal Makes Patient-Reported Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Outcomes Easier to Assess

September 14, 2014
Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP

The My GI Health tool tracks symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease over time, helping clinicians save time and improve patient care.

Patient-reported outcome (PRO) assessment tools are increasingly being used to assess patients’ specific complaints and drugs’ real-world effectiveness. Well-designed PRO tools tend to capture patients’ experiences of diseases or conditions in a structured format, which clinicians and researchers can analyze to understand patients’ perspectives.

Since April 2009, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) has been in development to provide standardized, computer-based PRO tools that assess patients’ physical, mental, and social health across a number of conditions. Recently, a team of researchers published NIH PROMIS gastrointestinal (GI) symptom measures called My GI Health.

In a study that appeared in the September 2014 issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, the researchers conducted psychometric analyses in 865 patients with diverse GI conditions and then compared them to 1,177 participants from the general population.

One-third of the diagnosed patients reported experiencing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), compared to 16% of those from the general population. The study authors identified 8 major symptom complexes: GERD, disrupted swallowing, diarrhea, bowel incontinence/soiling, nausea and vomiting, constipation, belly pain, and gas/bloating.

According to the researchers, the My GI Health tool assesses 4 GERD-related symptoms: sensations like reflux and regurgitation that are associated with food intake; sensations like lump in the throat that are unassociated with food intake; painful sensations like heartburn, chest pain, and throat burn; and belching gas or burping and hiccups.

The assessment tool asks questions about symptom frequency, severity, and/or impact during the previous 7 days. Within the portal, a colorful, tabular “ heat map ” reports the symptoms a patient has experienced over the past week, recording the most severe symptoms in red and the least troublesome ones in green.

GI PROMIS scales can be used together or individually for clinical practice and research in a disease-agnostic manner, and the study authors confirmed that they are broadly applicable across populations, GI symptoms, GI diseases, and demographics.

My GI Health serves as a guide for patients and physicians, as it tracks symptoms over time and helps clinicians save time and improve patient care. PROMIS instruments are available for adults, children aged 8 to 17 years, and parents or caregivers who wish to report about their child.