An open-source repository of functions to score specific Patient-Reported Outcome (PRO), Quality of Life (QoL), and other psychometric measures commonly used in research.
The PROscorer package is an extensible repository of functions to score specific PRO, QoL, and other psychometric measures and questionnaire-based instruments commonly used in research. It is intended to promote best practices for scoring PRO-like instruments, to standardize scoring procedures for PRO measures across studies, and to improve the reproducibility of research with PRO-like instruments by providing accurate, up-to-date, and well-documented PRO scoring functions that can easily be integrated into scientifically reproducible workflows.
Additionally, PROscorer is accompanied by a package vignette that contains detailed descriptions of each instrument scored by PROscorer, complete with references. Importantly, the instrument summaries are written according to a set of standards that ensure they meet "best practice" guidelines for descriptions of PRO-like measures in formal research protocols and in reports of research results featuring such measures. This means that, with little or no editing, a given instrument summary can be copied and pasted directly into protocols, grant proposals, and manuscripts. In addition to improving the measure descriptions in research documents, this saves the study investigators considerable time and effort.
The scientific rigor and reproducibility of research involving PRO, QoL, and similar measures is lagging behind other research areas. Three major reasons for these shortcomings are (1) measurement error introduced by faulty scoring procedures, (2) inconsistent application of scoring instructions across different studies using the same PRO measures, and (3) inadequate, incomplete, and/or inaccurate descriptions of PRO-like measures in research protocols and in published results of studies that incorporate such measures.
Scoring procedures represent a major source of error in research studies that rely upon PRO and similar measures. These errors typically go unnoticed, hidden, and/or ignored, eroding the scientific integrity of the research and hindering progress in the numerous scientific fields that conduct studies that use these measures.
Similarly, inconsistent application of PRO scoring procedures and variation in scoring across studies makes study results less likely to replicate and slows the accumulation of reliable scientific data from the PRO measure.
Inadequate, incomplete, and/or inaccurate descriptions of PRO-like measures in research documents can cause confusion and introduce errors, oversights, and other mistakes at multiple stages in the research process.
The PROscorer package provides the framework for addressing these problems with research involving PRO-like measures. The lofty goal of the PROscorer package is to eliminate these serious deficiencies in PRO-based research by serving as the gold-standard open-source repository of scoring syntax and instrument descriptions for PRO-like measures commonly used in research and clinical settings.
The features of the PROscorer package and supporting infrastructure were carefully planned with this ambitious goal in mind.
PROscorer serves as the repository of scoring functions for specific, commonly-used PRO measures (e.g., the EORTC QLQ-C30).
All scoring functions in PROscorer are written using simpler functions from a separate package, PROscorerTools. The PROscorerTools package provides the well-tested, reusable infrastructure for the PROscorer functions. This makes it easy to write new scoring functions to add to PROscorer, and decreases the chance of errors and other bugs.
Advanced users can use PROscorerTools to write new scoring functions for their favorite PRO-like measures and submit them for inclusion in future PROscorer updates. As of this initial release, the system for writing and submitting new functions is immature. A vignette will be included in future updates with a guide for writing new functions and submitting them for review on GitHub.
Functions to score additional PRO measures are currently under development and will be included in future releases.
The PROscorer and PROscorerTools packages are still in their initial versions. As such, some details and other conventions are still being hammered out, particularly in PROscorerTools (e.g., function naming conventions, argument-checking functions, etc.). However, any changes to the PROscorer functions are expected to be internal and have little or no impact on end-users.
I put a lot of thought into the PROscorer and PROscorerTools packages, and I have tested them as an end-user as well as developer. However, I cannot anticipate the needs of all users, and I would like your feedback on your experience using the package(s). Please let me know if you found PROscorer and/or PROscorerTools helpful. And please tell me how I can improve their usability, and definitely report any bugs or other unexpected behaviors you encounter. Make feature requests and bug reports here: https://github.com/raybaser/PROscorerTools/issues
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