Ways to improved patient pathways

​A qualitative analysis of cancer patients’ written comments

4. maj 2010

In 2008 a national questionnaire survey was conducted in Denmark to explore the experiences of cancer patients. The survey was based on a representative sample of both inpatients and outpatients with one of the following diagnoses: lung, breast, prostate, head/neck, colon, rectum, ovary, uterus or collum cancer.

The response rate on the questionnaire was 68 percent, and the data material consisted of 12,716 patients. At the end of the questionnaire, the patient had the opportunity to write comments in an open box. 39 percent of the respondents (4,898) wrote a comment. These written comments constitute the material of the present qualitative analysis.


The aim of the study was to illuminate cancer patients’ experiences and needs during the patient pathway. Focus is on the time before and after hospitalization, because these were the primary target areas for improvement according to the results of the quantitative survey.


Patients in the survey identified the following areas of improvement
Before hospitalization:
  • A shorter pathway before primary treatment
  • Reduced waiting time for tests and test results
  • More knowledge about cancer among general practitioners to help identify the disease and initiate a rapid referral
After hospitalization:
  • Higher level of support after hospitalization
  • Standardized services for physical rehabilitation, psychotherapy and working life counselling 
  • Individual rehabilitation plans
  • Higher level of information on rehabilitation in general and on effects and late consequences of the disease and how to prevent these
  • Optimized control after treatment by meeting fewer doctors, receiving more thorough examinations and having more and longer visits
  • Optimized cooperation between hospital and primary care 
It must be emphasized that the material is not representative for all Danish cancer patients, but it gives new angles on how to improve the quality of care according to cancer patients.