Optimal assessment tools in assessing breast surgery: patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) vs. objective measures
Improving the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of patients is the fundamental aim of aesthetic breast surgery and its importance is increasingly recognised in breast cancer-related surgery. There has been growing acceptance of the value of assessing physical, psychological and social well-being through patient reported outcome measures (PROMs). It is important to consider the role of PROMs in relation to objective measures to ensure that the optimal assessment tools are selected when assessing outcomes in breast surgery. A narrative review was conducted of published articles identified on Ovid Medline by searching the terms: patient reported outcome measures, quality of life (QoL), functional outcomes, aesthetic outcomes, complications and breast surgery. Reference lists were also examined to find relevant articles not detected through the search. Survival and mortality are outcomes of immense importance in breast surgery that are not suitable for assessment through PROMs and should be measured objectively. Post-operative complication rates and markers of their severity are most appropriately assessed using objective measures, however, patients may provide valuable insights into the impact complications have on their QoL. All current assessment tools for assessing aesthetic outcome have inherent limitations, and thus it is likely that both subjective and objective measures are required to comprehensively assess aesthetic outcomes in breast surgery. Physical dysfunction can be assessed objectively, however, PROMs may better evaluate physical well-being, reflecting the real-life implications of a change in function. Psychological and social well-being is irrefutably personal in nature and best assessed through PROMs. There is no one optimal assessment tool for assessing breast surgery outcomes. Utilising a combination of PROMs and objective measures is necessary to accurately and comprehensively evaluate the impact and effectiveness of surgical breast interventions.