Objective: Although measures of consumer satisfaction are increasingly used to supplement administrative measures in assessing quality of care, little is known about the association between these two types of indicators. This study examined the association between these measures at both an individual and a hospital level.
Methods: A satisfaction questionnaire was mailed to veterans discharged during a three-month period from 121 Veterans Administration inpatient psychiatric units; 5,542 responded, for a 37 percent response rate. These data were merged with data from administrative utilization files. Random regression analysis was used to determine the association between satisfaction and administrative measures of quality for subsequent outpatient follow-up.
Results: At the patient level, satisfaction with several aspects of service delivery was associated with fewer readmissions and fewer days readmitted. Better alliance with inpatient staff was associated with higher administrative measures of rates of follow-up, promptness of follow-up, and continuity of outpatient care, as well as with longer stay for the initial hospitalization. At the hospital level, only one association between satisfaction and administrative measures was statistically significant. Hospitals where patients expressed greater satisfaction with their alliance with outpatient staff had higher scores on administrative measures of promptness and continuity of follow-up.
Conclusions: The associations between patient satisfaction and administrative measures of quality at the individual level support the idea that these measures address a common underlying construct. The attenuation of the associations at the hospital level suggests that neither type can stand alone as a measure of quality across institutions.