The System for Patient Assessment of Cancer Experiences (SPACE): a cross-sectional study examining feasibility and acceptability

  • Rob W. Sanson-Fisher
  • Breanne T. HobdenEmail author
  • Mariko L. Carey
  • Heidi E. Turon
  • Amy E. Waller
  • Anthony M. Proietto
Original Article



Continuous quality improvement in cancer care relies on the collection of accurate data on the quality of care provided. It is suggested that such an approach should: (i) measure the patient’s care experience throughout the cancer trajectory; (ii) use items and response scales that measure concrete and specific aspects of care; (iii) minimise recall bias; (iv) minimise the burden placed on patients for providing data; (v) minimise administrative burden; and (vi) collect actionable data. The System for Patient Assessment of Cancer Experiences (SPACE) was developed to meet these objectives. This study describes the feasibility and acceptability of the SPACE in a sample of oncology outpatients.


The SPACE was examined in four medical oncology centres. Adult patients were approached by a research assistant prior to their scheduled consultation. Consenting participants completed the SPACE on a computer tablet. Items were tailored to the patient’s cancer treatment phase.


Of the eligible participants, 1143 consented (83%) and 1056 completed the survey (92%). The average time taken to complete the survey was 6 min 28 s. A large proportion of the sample indicated that the survey was acceptable (88–93% across three acceptability items).


This study demonstrates that the SPACE can be feasibly administered each time a patient comes to the oncology unit and is acceptable to patients. The SPACE could be used to quantify the care experiences which patients receive during their cancer care. The resulting data could be used to set benchmarks and improve the performance of cancer clinics.


Neoplasms Quality of health care Process assessment (health care) Outpatients Patient care 


Author contributions

RSF, MC, HT and AP were involved in conceptualisation of the study. RSF, BH and HT developed the methodology and oversaw data collection. BH performed the data analysis. All authors were involved in drafting, review and editing the manuscript.

Funding information

This research was supported by a Cancer Council New South Wales Program Grant (PG16-09) and infrastructure funding from the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI).

Compliance with ethical standards

Implied consent was obtained through initiation and completion of the survey.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rob W. Sanson-Fisher
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Breanne T. Hobden
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Mariko L. Carey
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Heidi E. Turon
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Amy E. Waller
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Anthony M. Proietto
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Health Behaviour Research Collaborative, School of Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Health and MedicineUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.Priority Research Centre for Health Behaviour, Faculty of Health and MedicineThe University of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  3. 3.Hunter Medical Research InstituteNew LambtonAustralia
  4. 4.Cancer NetworkHunter New England Local Health DistrictNew LambtonAustralia

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