Patient preferences for timing and access to radiation therapy

I.A. Olivotto, J. Soo, R.A. Olson, L. Rowe, J. French, B. Jensen, A. Pastuch, R. Halperin, P.T. Truong



Patient preferences for radiation therapy (rt) access were investigated.


Patients completing a course of rt at 6 centres received a 17-item survey that rated preferences for time of day; day of week; actual, ideal, and reasonable travel times for rt; and actual, ideal, and reasonable times between referral and first oncologic consultation. Patients receiving single-fraction rt or brachytherapy alone were excluded.


Of the respondents who returned surveys (n = 1053), 54% were women, and 74% had received more than 15 rt fractions. With respect to appointment times, 88% agreed or strongly agreed that rt between 08h00 and 16h30 was preferred; 14%–15% preferred 07h30–08h00 or 16h30–17h00; 10% preferred 17h00– 18h00; and 6% or fewer preferred times before 07h30 or after 18h00. A preference not to receive rt before 07h30 or after 18h00 was expressed by 30% or more of the respondents. When days of the week were considered, 18%  and 11% would have preferred to receive rt on a Saturday or Sunday respectively; 52% and 55% would have preferred not to receive rt on those days. A travel time of 1 hour or less for rt was reported by 82%, but 61% felt that a travel time of 1 hour or more was reasonable. A first consultation within 2 weeks of referral was felt to be ideal or reasonable by 88% and 73% of patients respectively.


An rt service designed to meet patient preferences would make most capacity available between 08h00 and 16h30 on weekdays and provide 10%–20% of rt capacity on weekends and during 07h30–08h00 and 16h30–18h00 on weekdays. Approximately 80%, but not all, of the responding patients preferred a 2-week or shorter interval between referral and first oncologic consultation.


Radiation therapy; health service capacity; patient-centred care; preferences

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)