Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Melinda L. Irwin


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has sidelined many elective, as well as non-elective, procedures designed to improve patients’ care experience. Oncology patients are at higher risk of developing and dying from COVID-19 and experience greater difficulties accessing and affording healthcare, compared to patients without cancer.

Objective: To explore the trends in patient experience of outpatient oncology patients in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: We utilized the additional comments section of the Press Ganey survey to ask respondents (n=12,514) about their experiences utilizing care. The survey was administered after each patient visit and analyzed quarterly from January 2020 to February 2021: January 1, 2020 - February 1, 2020, April 1, 2020 - May 1, 2020, July 1, 2020 - August 1, 2020, October 1, 2020 - November 1, 2020, and January 1, 2021 - February 1, 2021. We assessed eight measures of patient satisfaction and clinical effectiveness to assess patient experience in outpatient oncology patients of the Smilow Cancer Hospital Network: overall satisfaction, professionalism, compassion, efficiency, communication, patient engagement, quality of hospital facilities and, when applicable, treatment experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results: The proportion of respondents that expressed being satisfied with their experience changed significantly from January 2020 to February 2021: 75%, 79.2%, 77.4%, 76.0%, 75.1% (p < 0.001). The proportion of participants who reported satisfaction with pandemic-specific hospital policies declined significantly from 61.6% to 25% (p = 0.003) from January 2020 to February 2021. The patients at Smilow Cancer Hospital admitted to being less satisfied with the hospital facilities as well; reports of satisfaction with hospital facilities decreased from 35% to 26.5% (p = 0.064) from January 2020 to February 2021. Patient responses related to perception of engagement in their treatment plan fluctuated significantly over time: 75% reported feeling engaged in their treatment plan in January 2020 and in February 2021, 71.3% reported feeling engaged in their treatment plan (p = 0.0006). The patients at Smilow Cancer hospital expressed a slight improvement in communication after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (p = 0.925): at the first-time-point, 42.5% of respondents reported being satisfied with their communication and 52.5% reported being satisfied in February 2021.

Conclusion: This study indicated an overall upward trend in patient experience over the course of the year. As the COVID-19 pandemic stretched onward, the hospital facility adapted to maintain high levels of patient satisfaction.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access