Cancer patients’ experience of care is an important component of quality that has not previously been used for comparing performance. We administered a new patient experience survey to cancer patients receiving outpatient chemotherapy treatment. We examined its measures for sensitivity to adjustment for case-mix and response tendency (level of general optimism/pessimism) and reliability for making performance comparisons between practices.
We surveyed 2304 cancer patients who received chemotherapy at 23 medical oncology practices in Southeastern Pennsylvania, receiving 715 responses (response rate 31%; 14 practices had 10 or more responses). We aggregated patient responses to calculate practice-level scores on 5 predefined composites: Affective Communication, Shared Decision-Making, Patient Self-Management, Exchanging Information, and Access. We then ranked the practices on each composite before and after adjustment for standard case-mix variables and supplemental adjustment for response tendency (measured via the Life Orientation Test-Revised). We calculated the reliability of practice scores on each composite using hierarchical linear models and calculated minimum sample sizes necessary to achieve reliabilities exceeding 0.7.
After adjusting responses for case-mix and converting to a 0–100 scale, composite scores ranged from 77 for the Patient Self-Management composite to 92 for the Access composite. Adjustment for response tendency had an impact on practice rankings only for the Shared Decision-Making composite. The number of responses necessary to create reliable practice-level measurements ranged from 17 (Access composite) to 96 (Affective Communication composite).
Patient experiences at oncology practices can be measured reliably using reasonable sample sizes. Standard case-mix adjustment is adequate for making comparisons on most composites.