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The New Zealand Medical Journal

 Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 05-November-2010, Vol 123 No 1325

[full text] [PDF]

The Voice of Experience: Results from Cancer Control New Zealand's first national cancer care survey
Inga O’Brien, Emma Britton, Diana Sarfati, Wayne Naylor, Barry Borman, Lis Ellison-Loschmann, Andrew Simpson, Craig Tamblyn, Chris Atkinson


The 2009 Cancer Care Survey aimed to gather information from patients about their experiences receiving outpatient cancer care.

In mid-2009, Cancer Control New Zealand sent an NRC+Picker postal survey to a stratified sample of 3251 eligible adults, who had received outpatient cancer care between October 2008 and March 2009. Eight cancer treatment facilities across New Zealand provided patient lists from which potential respondents were selected.

The final response rate to the survey was 68%. Most of the patients surveyed responded very positively to questions related to specialist care coordination (91% positive response; 95%CI: 90–93), the level of privacy (87% positive response; 95%CI: 85–89), and the dignity and respect provided by healthcare professionals (86% positive response; 95%CI: 85–88). However, patients tended to be much less positive about the level of information they received on the effects of cancer treatment on their day-to-day life (responses ranging between 30% and 40% positive) and the level of emotional support provided (36% positive response; 95%CI: 33–39). Responses from different cancer services tended to follow similar patterns, although for twelve questions there was at least a 20% difference in response between services.

Overall, patients rated their outpatient cancer care experiences as positive, but important gaps exist in the provision of information, emotional support, and treating patients within the context of their living situation. Cancer patient experience surveys can achieve high response rates and generate useful information on patient perceptions of their care. This data can be used to inform quality improvement efforts at both national and cancer treatment service levels.

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