Patient attitude towards waiting in an outpatient clinic and its applications

Health Serv Manage Res. 1994 Feb;7(1):2-8. doi: 10.1177/095148489400700101.


Patient waiting time in outpatient clinics is often the major reason for patients' complaints about their experiences of visiting outpatient clinics. Therefore, patient satisfaction with waiting time plays a crucial role in the process of health quality assurance or quality management. This paper reports the results of a survey on patient attitude towards waiting in an outpatient surgery clinic. Generally patients appear reasonably satisfied if they wait no more than 37 minutes when arriving on time, and no more than 63 minutes when late for appointments. Patients coming up to 15 minutes early are prepared to take full responsibility for the extra waiting caused, but the patients coming even earlier intend to be seen earlier and are only prepared to wait 15 minutes longer than otherwise. The potential applications of patient attitude towards waiting in the quality assurance process, ie setting up waiting time limits and designing patient dispatching rules, are also discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Data Collection
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / standards*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / standards
  • State Medicine / standards
  • Time Factors
  • Wales