The waiting time for cancer diagnosis and treatment could influence patients’ survival. However, in Poland the waiting time is still long. In Poland, medical care is financed by the government and free for patients, but in a situation of long waiting times for diagnostic tests or in cases where it is impossible to obtain some other health services, patients use the private sector. The rationale for this study was to figure out if there are any difficulties in the oncological system and assessment of whether patients have to use the private sector.
The study was carried out on a group of 384 patients who were being treated for malignant neoplasm in five oncological centers in Poland. A questionnaire was prepared specifically for this study and each patient was interviewed individually. The questionnaire was validated on a group of 20 patients. The measure of compliance was calculated using Cohen’s Kappa coefficient. The study protocol was approved by the Local Ethics Committee. All of the participants had submitted a signed consent form.
202 women and 180 men (2 no data) were analyzed, median age 65 years. 67% of patients declared problems with getting social service and significant differences in getting social service were observed between various regions of Poland (p < 0.001). One third of patients (32%) used private services during the diagnostic process. Patients with higher education showed significantly more frequent problems (p = 0.03). 91% of patients declared difficulties during treatment. Those who showed significantly more frequent problems were: women (p = 0.04), younger patients (p = 0.0015), professionally active (p = 0.025) with higher education (p < 0.001), living in cities (p = 0.016). More than half of patients with higher education (54%) paid for healthcare services in comparison with patients with lower education levels (average 25%) (p < 0.001).
Cancer patients have some difficulties in the oncological system in Poland. The younger people, those with higher education, the professionally active, and those living in cities seem to be more aware of their rights. The proper solution could be to introduce corrections in oncological organization to avoid the need of using private services.
Clinical trial identification
Legal entity responsible for the study
Has not received any funding.
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.