Objective: To examine how different pathways to diagnosis of colorectal cancer may be associated with the experience of subsequent care.
Design: Patient survey linked to information on diagnostic route.English patients with colorectal cancer (analysis sample n=6837) who responded to a patient survey soon after their hospital treatment.
Main outcome measures: Odds Ratios and adjusted proportions of negative evaluation of key aspects of care for colorectal cancer, including the experience of shared decision-making about treatment, specialist nursing and care coordination, by diagnostic route (ie, screening detection, emergency presentation, urgent and elective general practitioner referral).
Results: For 14 of 18 questions, there was evidence (p≤0.02) for variation in patient experience by diagnostic route, with 6-31 percentage point differences between routes in adjusted proportions of negative experience. Emergency presenters were more likely to report a negative experience for most questions, including those about adequacy of information about their diagnosis and sufficient explanation before operations. Screen-detected patients were least likely to report negative experiences except for support from primary care. Patients diagnosed through elective primary care referrals were most likely to report worse experience for questions for which overall variation by route was generally small.
Conclusions: Screening-detected patients tend to report the best and emergency presenters the worst experience of subsequent care. Improvement efforts can target care integration for screening-detected patients and provision of information about the diagnosis and treatment of emergency presenters.