Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Health Services Research and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

The relationship between perceived service quality and patient willingness to recommend at a national oncology hospital network

Christopher G Lis*, Mark Rodeghier and Digant Gupta

Author Affiliations

Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), 500 E. Remington St., Schaumburg, IL 60173, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Health Services Research 2011, 11:46  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-46

Published: 25 February 2011



"Willingness to recommend" questions are being increasingly used to measure and manage patient loyalty. Yet, there is little data in the literature correlating the "willingness to recommend" question with commonly used perceived service quality items in surveys to identify the key drivers of the optimal patient experience. We therefore evaluated the relationship between perceived service quality and subsequent single top box "willingness to recommend" scores among oncology patients.


A total of 2018 returning cancer patients treated at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) responded to an internally developed service quality questionnaire, which covered the following dimensions: operations and services, treatment and care with a multidisciplinary team and patient endorsements. Items were measured on a 7-point Likert-type scale ranging from "completely dissatisfied" to "completely satisfied." Patient willingness to, "recommend this facility to friends and associates" was measured on an 11-point scale ranging from "not at all likely" to "extremely likely", which was subsequently dichotomized into two categories: top box response (10) versus all others (0-9). The relationship between perceived service quality and "willingness to recommend" was assessed via Kendall's tau b correlation and univariate and multivariate logistic regression.


Of the 2018 patients, 959 were newly diagnosed while 1059 were previously treated. 902 were males and 1116 females. The mean age was 54.2 years and the most frequent diagnoses were breast (412), lung (294), prostate (260), colorectal (179) and pancreas (169). 1553 patients said they were "extremely likely" to recommend CTCA to friends and associates, resulting in 77% "top box" responses while 465 (23%) responded in all other categories. The key service quality drivers that were statistically significant in the final logistic model were "team helping you understand your medical condition", "staff genuinely caring for you as an individual", "whole person approach to patient care" and "CTCA medical oncologist."


In this multi-center study, we demonstrate the predictive significance of perceived service quality as it relates to patient willingness to recommend an oncology service provider. This study is unique in reporting on the role of perceived service quality as a predictor of patient willingness to recommend in a large sample of cancer patients.