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Research project: Analysis of free text responses from the Department of Health’s 2013 survey of colorectal cancer Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs)

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The measurement of outcomes, improving patient experience, and enhancing quality of life for people with a long term condition (LTC) is a Department of Health priority. This study will analyse the text comments provided by respondents to an open-ended question at the end of the Department of Health's patient reported outcomes measures (PROMs) 2013 survey with cancer colorectal cancer patients, who are between 1 and 5 years after completion of treatment. This work builds upon previous analyses by the research team of the initial PROMs survey (2011), established as part of the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative (NCSI) to evaluate patients' experiences of cancer care in England.


To examine the free text responses of participants of the colorectal PROMS survey with a view to facilitating service improvement


  • To thematically categorise comments provided by survey participants;
  • To index comments to the NHS trust in which participants received their care to differentiate between the perceived quality of care provided by different trusts;
  • To explore the feasibility of developing a methodology for provider profiling within future PROMS surveys that would enable the measurement of service improvement over time;
  • To examine the potential for data mining approaches to inform future provider profiling.

Plan of work:

The proposed project builds upon analysis of free text box analysis in the first wave PROMS survey in 2011, provided by the Faculty of Health Sciences, which illustrated many examples of good treatment and quality care for some participants, but also a lack of patient preparation and long-standing survivorship issues experienced by others. The current study draws on the methods and findings of this previous work with an anticipated sample of 5000 - 6000 responses from the colorectal survey.


  • The study will index participants' comments against the hospital trusts from which they received their treatment and so differentiate the perceived quality of care experienced by participants between them.
  • The team will explore ways in which profiles of NHS trusts could be developed, based on participants' comments, which could assist with assessment of perceived quality of care across trusts and measure service improvement over time.
  • The team will also examine the potential for data mining strategies for investigating free text responses, with a view to further developing the methodology for analysing future PROMS surveys.

Project Team

Professor Jessica Corner
Dr Richard Wagland

Project Funder


Related research groups

Complex Healthcare Processes
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