Since April 1997, in Melbourne, Australia, speech pathologists have collaborated to establish a prospective database of functional outcomes of speech, swallowing and voice for patients undergoing head and neck cancer treatments.
Staff at eight acute care hospitals, all of which offer speech pathology for head and neck cancer services in Victoria, are contributing data, collated centrally, in an agreed pro forma.
Early results are given (after 12 months’ data collection). The implications for clinically-based research, and the future potential for benchmarking outcomes – by expansion of the rehabilitation database beyond the current participating sites – is discussed.
This paper outlines the rationale of establishing the database is multicentred, and explores some of the complexities involved, including the challenges inherent in long-term accurate data collection in the head and neck cancer patient population. This work represents the development of an appropriate, usable tool for data collection on functional outcomes.