Scottish Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2015-16: technical report

Postal survey that was sent to cancer patients who had an inpatient stay or hospital visit as a day case, as well as a cancer diagnosis.

This document is part of a collection

Survey response

Response rate for the survey

The response rate for the survey is the number of completed forms returned as a percentage of the number of valid survey packs sent out. In total, 7,949 valid surveys were sent to patients and 4,835 were returned completed, giving an overall response rate of 61 per cent. Survey packs were considered to be valid if they were successfully delivered to an eligible patient. Of the 4,835 respondents:

  • 4,297 sent their surveys back in the post
  • 525 completed their survey online
  • 11 completed their survey via the telephone helpline, and
  • the remaining 2 completed the survey using the telephone translation helpline.

Response rates for individual NHS Boards, Regional Cancer Networks, and Cancer Centres

The NHS Board, Regional Cancer Network and Cancer Centre with highest response were NHS Borders, the North of Scotland Cancer Network and Ninewells Hospital respectively (Table 2, Table 3, Table 4).

Note: where the tables overleaf include numbers that are too low to report (less than 20) these instances have been marked with '**' .

Table 2: Response rate by NHS Board of treatment

NHS Board Responded Did not respond Total
N % N % N %
NHS Ayrshire & Arran 265 62% 162 38% 427 100%
NHS Borders 81 72% 31 28% 112 100%
NHS Dumfries & Galloway 78 59% 55 41% 133 100%
NHS Fife 195 58% 142 42% 337 100%
NHS Forth Valley 139 62% 87 38% 226 100%
NHS Grampian 544 66% 284 34% 828 100%
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde 1,471 57% 1,126 43% 2,597 100%
NHS Highland 284 67% 143 33% 427 100%
NHS Lanarkshire 278 56% 222 44% 500 100%
NHS Lothian 1,006 63% 584 37% 1,590 100%
NHS Orkney ** ** ** ** ** 100%
NHS Shetland ** ** ** ** ** 100%
NHS Tayside 380 66% 197 34% 577 100%
NHS Western Isles ** ** ** ** ** 100%
Golden Jubilee National Hospital 97 59% 67 41% 164 100%
Total 4,835 61% 3,114 39% 7,949 100%
Table 3: Response rate by Regional Cancer Network of treatment
Regional Cancer Network Responded Did not respond Total
N % N % N %
North of Scotland Cancer Network 1,225 66% 638 34% 1,863 100%
South East Scotland Cancer Network 1,360 63% 812 37% 2,172 100%
West of Scotland Cancer Network 2,153 57% 1,597 43% 3,750 100%
Not part of a Network (Golden Jubilee National Hospital) 97 59% 67 41% 164 100%
Total 4,835 61% 3,114 39% 7,949 100%
Table 4: Response rate for Cancer Centre of treatment
Cancer Centre Responded Did not respond Total
N % N % N %
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary 487 67% 242 33% 729 100%
Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre 576 60% 392 40% 968 100%
Edinburgh Cancer Centre 558 68% 268 32% 826 100%
Ninewells Hospital 325 69% 148 31% 473 100%
Raigmore Hospital 262 67% 130 33% 392 100%
Other hospitals 2,627 58% 1,934 42% 4,561 100%
Total 4,835 61% 3,114 39% 7,949 100%

Respondent burden

The survey should have taken respondents around 20 minutes to complete. The total respondent burden as defined by (number of responses) * (time taken to respond) is 1,612 hours.

Response analysis

The number of responses analysed for each question is typically lower than the total number of responses received. This is because not all of the questionnaires returned could be included in the calculation of results for every individual question. This was mainly for the following reasons:

  • The specific question did not apply to the respondent and so they did not answer it. For example if the patient did not receive radiotherapy treatment they would not complete the questions relating to radiotherapy;
  • The respondent answered that they did not know or could not remember the answer to a particular question;
  • The respondent gave an invalid response to the question, for example they ticked more than one box where only one answer could be accepted.


Opting out

A total of 570 respondents opted out of the survey, or were reported by a friend or relative as being too ill to take part. Patients could opt out of the survey by contacting the survey helpline or returning the questionnaire blank. This was the only form of non-response where it was considered that an eligible patient had received a valid survey. These 570 individuals were therefore included in the calculation of the survey response rate.


A total of 45 questionnaires were returned to the contractors as undelivered. It is possible that these patients no longer live at the address under which they are registered at their GP practice (this is the initial source of the address information used in the survey).

Deceased patients

As with all Care Experience surveys, every effort was made to avoid questionnaires being sent to family members of deceased people. Before the fieldwork began in earnest, ISD removed all patients appearing on the National Records of Scotland ( NRS) deaths database from the sample. A revised list of people included in the survey was sent to NHS Central Register ( NHSCR) and to ATOS who administrate the CHI database. On the morning of each mail out, NHSCR alerted ISD to any deaths that had been formally registered. In addition, ATOS were able to notify ISD of any deaths that were captured on the CHI database that had not yet been formally registered. For example, in situations where a GP has informed CHI of a patient's death but the family of the deceased had yet to register the death. ISD processed this information and supplied a list of deceased people to the contractors by noon each day of mail out. Patients were also marked as deceased in situations where a relative of the patient had reported directly to the contractor that the patient had died. The contractor removed the relevant letters/questionnaires from the mailing.

  • Before the first questionnaires were sent, 48 people were identified as deceased and removed from the sample. These people were not sent survey questionnaires.
  • Prior to the first and second reminders, 53 and 75 people respectively were identified as deceased and they were not sent further correspondence.
  • In seven cases, patients were identified as deceased by a relative. However, this information was either not received, or the death was not registered, in time to prevent a survey questionnaire being sent.

Self-identified ineligible patients

  • Over the course of survey fieldwork a total of 42 patients identified that they were not eligible to take part in the survey. This was typically through patients reporting that they had not received hospital treatment for cancer.
  • In cases where a patient requested further information regarding their inclusion in the survey sample, staff from the patient's NHS board of residence made every effort to contact the patient to discuss this.


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