Publication - Statistics

Scottish Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2018: free-text analysis

Published: 15 Sep 2020

Analysis of free-text comments provided by patients as part of the Scottish Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2018.

Scottish Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2018: free-text analysis
3. Methods

3. Methods

About the Survey

The Scottish Cancer Patient Experience Survey contained six free-text comment boxes. Free-text comment boxes were placed at the end of each section of the survey to allow participants to discuss further information about the issue covered in the preceding section. 

Questionnaires could be completed on paper or on-line. Free-text comments were transcribed and any details which could lead to an individual being identified were redacted. Prior to analysis, socio-demographic and clinical data were anonymised and given an identifier which could be linked to comments. Table 1 shows the question asked in each comment box and details the main topics of the preceding section in the questionnaire.

Table 1: Comment Boxes

Question Topic: If there is anything else you would like to tell us about… Preceding Questionnaire Section Headings
Comment Box 1  (Survey question 11) The lead-up to your cancer diagnosis, or the way you found out you had cancer Getting diagnosed, Finding out about your cancer
Comment Box 2  (Survey question 18) The way decisions were made about your treatment Deciding the best treatment for you
Comment Box 3  (Survey question 28) Your operation / radiotherapy / chemotherapy treatment Operations, Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy
Comment Box 4  (Survey question 34) The care you received when you were in hospital for cancer care Hospital care
Comment Box 5  (Survey question 49) Any other support you received during your cancer care, including from your GP Practice and third sector organisations Support from Health and Social Services, Other Support, 
Comment Box 6  (Survey question 61) Your experience of cancer care Your overall experience

A total of 8,090 surveys were sent to eligible respondents, of which 5,001 cancer patients responded to the survey, giving an overall response rate of 62 per cent. Of those, 3,315 participants (66 per cent) left at least one free-text comment. Overall, 9,320 comments were left by those 3,315 participants across the six comment boxes. The comment box which generated the most comments was Comment Box 1 - lead up to diagnosis (2,160 comments). Comment Box 2 – way decisions were made about your treatment (1,198 comments), received the fewest number of comments.

About the Survey Participants

The survey sample was drawn from individuals aged 16 or over who had inpatient hospital records with a mention of cancer between 1 January and 30 September 2017, and a confirmed cancer diagnosis date between 1 July 2016 and 31 March 2017 on the Scottish Cancer Registry. A total of 8,090 surveys were sent out and 5,001 completed surveys were returned.

The socio-demographic and clinical characteristics of all participants and those who left at least one comment are described in Appendix 1. Comparisons indicate no large differences between the two groups. Fifty-six per cent of respondents who submitted at least one free-text comment were female and forty-four per cent were male.

Data Analysis

The free-text comments were analysed using thematic analysis, and NVivo software was used as a data management tool. Positive and negative comments were identified, and is presented separately in the results section, due to the volume and nature of the data. Comments were coded into relevant categories depending on the content of the response. Each comment could be coded into multiple categories if a participant touched on more than one sub-theme in a single free-text box.

The results of the free-text analysis are presented using a range of approaches. First, a breakdown of each of the six comment boxes is given. This is followed by an overview of the number of positive, negative and neutral comments and sub-themes, alongside a detailed description of the main themes arising from the thematic analysis. Within each section a more comprehensive breakdown of each of the positive, negative and neutral sub-themes is provided together with illustrative examples of experiences shared by survey participants. Any disclosive information has been removed from individual's comments, but they are otherwise presented verbatim.