NHS Project: Beyond the Checkbox

Beyond the checkbox – understanding what patients say in feedback on NHS services

The purpose of this ESRC-funded Knowledge Exchange project is to help the National Health Service better understand the results of patient feedback so that they can improve their services. The NHS gathers a great deal of user feedback on its services from patients. Much of this is in “free text” format and represents a rich dataset, although the amount of text generated in the thousands of feedback forms patients fill in each year makes it unfeasible to undertake a close qualitative analysis of all of it. Categorisation-based approaches like sentiment analysis have been tried on the dataset but have not found to be revealing. In this project we will be working with the NHS to first identify a set of research questions they would like to be answered from the data, and then we will use corpus-based discourse analysis to draw out the main themes and issues arising from the data. We will focus on four key NHS services – dentists, GP practices, hospitals and pharmacies. Some of the issues we are focussing on include: what matters most for patients, the key drivers for positive and negative feedback, indicators in comments that might trigger an alert or urgent review and differences across providers/services or by socio-demographic group.


Principal Investigator: Paul Baker

Senior Research Associate: Gavin Brookes

Doctoral Researcher: Craig Evans