3 priorities for health service improvement voiced by oncology outpatients

Cancer care

By Julie Lambert

24 May 2021

When it comes to patient-centred care for oncology outpatients, their priorities are better car parking, catering and timely information on treatment, an Australian study has revealed.

Patients receiving chemotherapy at six NSW oncology centres clinics were asked to nominate general health service improvements and voted predominantly (56%) for better car parking access.

A long way behind, 19% of the 879 patients who responded to an online survey voted for up-to-date information about their treatment and the progress of their condition, while 17% nominated hospital catering.

The survey found that patients had less priority for other general health services such as help to maintain daily activities and healthy lifestyles, help to maintain daily activities and healthy lifestyles, and information on possible financial assistance (all 15%).

And surprisingly few patients suggested a need to improve waiting times for appointments (14%) , help with physical symptoms and side effects (14%) or services to help maintain daily activities and healthy lifestyles.

Compared to those in the 70 years and over age group, patients aged 18-49 and 50-69 had significantly more likely to prioritise the issue of convenient parking.

The authors, led by University of Newcastle researchers, said the survey included a newly developed measure, the Consumer Preferences Survey (CPS), to give a more complete picture of the patient experience.

The survey also showed that concerns about car parking were site-specific, with some oncology clinics having it as  a priority for up to 80% of  patients while others were as low as 7%.

Of those who prioritised parking, the most popular suggestion for improvement was reserved parking for clinic patients.

Among patients most concerned with having up-to-date treatment information, the most prevalent choice was “knowing the status of their cancer”.

The study authors noted that patients wanted personal information related to their case, including the next steps in their treatment and receiving test results as soon as possible.

Of those who focused specifically on hospital catering, the most commonly chosen initiative was to have food delivered to the clinic if a patient was unable to leave.

The authors said some studies of oncology services had shown very high rates of satisfaction with treatment services and staff, and thus the questions and options used in surveys could be key to eliciting useful feedback.

They highlighted the finding that six out of the top 10 general health service improvement items related to participant’s desire for additional information about their cancer and its treatment.

“This finding is consistent with the unmet needs literature among cancer patients, where information needs have consistently been identified as a key area of unmet need for many patients,” they wrote

“In the field of cancer care, provision of patient-centred care has been associated with has been associated with improved psychological outcomes, increased medication adherence and increased patient satisfaction,” they added.

The findings are published in Patient Related Outcome Measures.

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