Measuring improvement in populations: implementing and evaluating successful change in lung cancer care
Improving quality of care in lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death worldwide and in the United States, is a major public health challenge. Such improvement requires accurate and meaningful measurement of quality of care. Preliminary indicators have been derived from clinical practice guidelines and expert opinions, but there are few standard sets of quality of care measures for lung cancer in the United States or elsewhere. Research to develop validated evidence-based quality of care measures is critical in promoting population improvement initiatives in lung cancer. Furthermore, novel research designs beyond the traditional randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are needed for wide-scale applications of quality improvement and should extend into alternative designs such as quasi-experimental designs, rigorous observational studies, population modeling, and other pragmatic study designs. We discuss several study design options to aid the development of practical, actionable, and measurable quality standards for lung cancer care. We also provide examples of ongoing pragmatic studies for the dissemination and implementation of lung cancer quality improvement interventions in community settings.