Timely diagnosis of cancer matters for patient experience

In our recent paper we studied how pre-diagnosis experience affects subsequent care experience in cancer patients (1). Our findings suggest that patients who experienced more pre-referral consultations in primary care are more likely to be less satisfied with their care. As perhaps could have been expected, the associations found were stronger for questions involving primary care compared to hospital care.

We used data from over 70,000 patients who responded to the English Cancer Patient Experience Survey. In this survey patients report the number of pre-referral consultations with a GP, which was used as a marker of diagnostic delay. As different patients may vary in their tendency to give critical responses in general, we adjusted our analysis using a response tendency item. This item was calculated using mixed effects models and included responses to several questions from the survey.

This work further supports efforts aimed at reducing time to diagnosis and amplifies previous evidence where patients expressed preference for having cancer investigations at low risk levels (2).

The fact that associations found were stronger for aspects involving primary care has implications for follow up involving general practice.

The research was covered by BMJ News and general media.

1. Mendonca S.C. et al, Pre-referral general practitioner consultations and subsequent experience of cancer care: evidence from the English Cancer Patient Experience Survey, European Journal of Cancer (2015), DOI: 10.1111/ecc.12353.

2. Banks, J., Hollinghurst, S., Bigwood, L., Peters, T.J., Walter, F.M., Hamilton, W. Preferences for cancer investigation: A vignette-based study of primary-care attendees (2014) The Lancet Oncology, 15 (2), pp. 232-240.

 

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  • The Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research (CCHSR) is a thriving collaboration between the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe. We aim to inform health policy and practice by conducting research and evaluation studies of organisation and delivery of healthcare, including safety, effectiveness, efficiency and patient experience.