PAUL C., CAREY M., ANDERSON A., MACKENZIE L., SANSON-FISHER R., COURTNEY R. & CLINTON-MCHARG T. (2012) European Journal of Cancer Care21, 321–329
Cancer patients' concerns regarding access to cancer care: perceived impact of waiting times along the diagnosis and treatment journey
Waiting times can raise significant concern for cancer patients. This study examined cancer patients' concern levels at each phase of waiting. Demographic, disease and psychosocial characteristics associated with concern at each phase were also assessed. 146 consenting outpatients (n= 146) were recruited from two hospitals in Sydney, Australia. Each completed a touch-screen computer survey, asking them to recall concern experienced regarding waiting times at each treatment phase. Approximately half (52%) reported experiencing concern during at least one treatment phase, while 8.9% reported experiencing concern at every phase. Higher proportions of patients reported concern about waiting times from: deciding to have radiotherapy to commencement of radiotherapy (31%); the first specialist appointment to receiving a cancer diagnosis (28%); and deciding to have chemotherapy to commencement of chemotherapy (28%). Patient groups more likely to report concern were those of lower socio-economic status, born outside Australia, or of younger age. Although a small proportion of patients reported very high levels of concern regarding waiting times, the experience of some concern was prevalent. Opportunities for reducing this concern are discussed. Vulnerable groups, such as younger and socio-economically disadvantaged patients, should be the focus of efforts to reduce waiting times and patient concern levels.