The quality of patient care in oncology departments in Karachi, Pakistan: Patients' perceptions

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Purpose: This study aims to assess the quality of care among adult oncology patients in tertiary care hospitals in Karachi by using an international standard of quality of care and to identify domains where improvement is needed.
Design/methodology/approach: This is a cross-sectional study carried out at two tertiary care hospitals of Karachi, Pakistan, belonging to private and public sector, respectively, between February and April 2018. Face-to-face interviews were conducted using a modified questionnaire having five-point Likert scale questions regarding satisfaction of patients with doctors, nursing staff, information provided and the hospital standards. SPSS 20 was used for statistical analysis, and the results were expressed using mean, frequencies, percentages and p-values.
Findings: The authors approached 415 patients, out of which 389 patients agreed to participate in the study. For both hospitals, the lowest mean scores were for sections pertaining to satisfaction with psychosocial support and information provided. The mean satisfaction score of patients from the private hospital were found to be significantly higher as compared to patients from the public hospital for all domains of patient care (p-value < 0.01 using t-test for two independent samples). The data showed an increasing trend of "satisfied" responses as the household income increased.
Research limitations/implications: A comparative study should be conducted with the aim of pinpointing the differences in areas in which there is a significant difference in positive satisfaction levels between private and public sectors. Similar research could also be expanded adding other variables that affect quality of care such as doctor's approach to their patients, time given during each consultation and patient's understanding of doctor's knowledge. Further studies can be done to bridge the gaps between what a doctor views as standard care and what the patient knows will help them receive a more holistic approach to care.
Practical implications: Assessing the quality of care helps determine gaps in care and allocating health resources accordingly. In clinical practice, emphasis needs to be given on increased duration and improved quality of patient counselling to improve the low satisfaction levels of patients regarding the psychosocial support. Addressing patients' concerns should be made part of clinical teaching from an undergraduate level. As far as patient access to doctors of the specific speciality is concerned, hospital managements should adopt systems to ensure continuum of care and come up with mechanisms to bridge the discrepancy between a patient's needs and doctor availability.
Social implications: After being identified as a major deficiency, training doctors in the sensitivities of the population and demographics, especially with respect to socio-economic statuses, can aid in enhancing patient satisfaction to the treatment. Implementation of patient-centred care leads to greater satisfaction with care, which, in turn, increases a patient's self efficacy in managing important aspects of their care and improves health care-related quality of life.
Originality/value: Cancer patients have long-term exposure to the hospital environment. A patient's satisfaction with the quality of care is an important determinant in patient compliance to the treatment protocol and required hospital visits. There is a dearth of research on the outpatient quality of care in the oncology departments in Karachi. This study provides an overview of the quality of care available to cancer patients in Karachi both in public and private sectors. The results of our study identify the gaps in the quality of care being provided to the patients in a developing country like Pakistan, which can be used to improve the quality of care, leading to better patient outcomes.


Volume, issue, and pagination are not provided by the author/publisher

Publication (Name of Journal)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance