IMPORTANCE The association of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) with patient quality of life has been poorly explored.OBJECTIVE To evaluate patient-reported outcomes (PROs) assessed in randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of immunotherapy-based treatments.DATA SOURCES This systematic review and random-effects meta-analysis used RCTs identified in PubMed, MEDLINE, Embase, and Scopus from database inception to June 1, 2021.STUDY SELECTION A total of 2259 RCTs were identified that assessed ICIs as monotherapy or in combination with chemotherapy or combined with another ICI and/or targeted therapy vs control groups not containing immunotherapy in patients with advanced solid tumors. Studies were reviewed independently by 2 authors.DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS This meta-analysis followed the PRISMA guidelines and recommendations of the Setting International Standards in Analyzing Patient-Reported Outcomes and Quality of Life Endpoints Data Consortium.MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES The coprimary aims of the meta-analysis were (1) pooled differences between treatment groups in the mean change of PRO score from baseline to 12 and 24 weeks of follow-up and (2) pooled differences between treatment groups in the time to deterioration of PRO score. For each end point, RCTs have been analyzed according to the type of treatment administered in the experimental group: ICIs given as monotherapy, ICIs combined with chemotherapy, or ICIs in association with another ICI and/or with targeted therapies.RESULTS Of the 2259 identified RCTs, 34 (18709 patients) met the selection criteria and were analyzed. In the group of 19 RCTs testing ICIs as monotherapy, the pooled between-groups difference of mean change from baseline to 12 weeks of follow-up was 4.6 (95% CI. 2.8-6.4), and the mean change from baseline to 24 weeks of follow-up was 6.1(95% CI. 4.2-8.1), significantly favoring ICIs. The pooled difference was 1.4 (95% CI, -0.4 to 3.2) at week 12 and 2.5 (95% CI, -0.8 to 5.9) at week 24 in the group of 8 RCTs testing ICIs combined with chemotherapy and 2.1(95% CI, -0.8 to 5.0) at week 12 and 2.1(95% CI, -0.4 to 4.5) at week 24 in the group of 8 RCTs testing other ICI-containing combinations. The time to deterioration was significantly longer in the immunotherapy-containing groups compared with control groups in all 3 groups of RCTs evaluated (hazard ratios of 0.80 [95% CI, 0.70-0.91] for ICIs as monotherapy, 0.89 [95% CI, 0.78-1.00] for ICIs plus chemotherapy, and 0.78 [95% CI, 0.63-0.96] for other ICI-containing combinations).CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Immune checkpoint inhibitors as monotherapy appear to have a favorable association with patient-reported quality of life and can be combined with other classes of anticancer drugs without worsening this quality of life.
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