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‘Health Chatter’: Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health Blog



Timely diagnosis of cancer matters for patient experience

By rmjdgly, on 2 August 2015


We are delighted to host a blog on a recent collaborative paper, written by guest blogger Silvia Mendonca, Statistician, Cambridge Centre for Health Services Reserach, University of Cambridge.


By Silvia Mendonca

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. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2015 Jul 30. doi: 10.1111/ecc.12353. [Epub ahead of print]

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.