Open Access Research article

Measuring cancer care coordination: development and validation of a questionnaire for patients

Jane M Young12*, Jennifer Walsh2, Phyllis N Butow23, Michael J Solomon24 and Joanne Shaw2

Author Affiliations

1 Cancer Epidemiology and Services Research (CESR), Sydney School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

2 Surgical Outcomes Research Centre, University of Sydney and Sydney Local Health Network, Sydney, NSW, Australia

3 Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-based Decision Making (CeMPED), School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

4 Discipline of Surgery, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:298  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-298

Published: 15 July 2011



Improving the coordination of cancer care is a priority area for service improvement. However, quality improvement initiatives are hindered by the lack of accurate and reliable measures of this aspect of cancer care. This study was conducted to develop a questionnaire to measures patients' experience of cancer care coordination and to assess the psychometric properties of this instrument.


Questionnaire items were developed on the basis of literature review and qualitative research involving focus groups and interviews with cancer patients, carers and clinicians. The draft instrument was completed 686 patients who had been recently treated for a newly diagnosed cancer, including patients from metropolitan, regional and rural areas of New South Wales, Australia. To assess test-retest reliability, 119 patients completed the questionnaire twice. Unreliable items those with limited variability or high levels of missing data were eliminated. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted to define the underlying factor structure of the remaining items and subscales were constructed. Correlations between these and global measures of the experience of care coordination and the quality of care were assessed.


Of 40 items included in the draft questionnaire, 20 were eliminated due to poor test-retest reliability (n = 4), limited response distributions (n = 8), failure to load onto a factor (n = 7) or detrimental effect on the internal consistency of the scale (n = 1). The remaining 20 items loaded onto two factors named 'Communication' and 'Navigation', which explained 91% of the common variance. Internal consistency was with high for the instrument (Cronbach's alpha 0.88) and each subscale (Cronbach's alpha 0.87 and 0.73 respectively). There was no apparent 'floor' or 'ceiling' effect for the total score or the Communication subscale, but evidence of a ceiling effect for the Navigation subscale with 21% of respondents achieving the highest possible score. There were moderate positive associations between the total score and global measures of care coordination (r = 0.57) and quality of care (r = 0.53).


The instrument developed in this study demonstrated consistency and robust psychometric properties. It may provide a useful tool to measure patients' experience of cancer care coordination in future surveys and intervention studies.

cancer; coordination of cancer care; questionnaire; psychometrics