Objectives: To develop a measure of parental perceptions of pediatric inpatient quality of care, to identify processes of care that influence these perceptions, and to describe these perceptions of care.
Design: An interdisciplinary team modified an existing measure of inpatient care for adults using focus groups and expert review. The resulting survey was administered by telephone.
Setting: Tertiary care pediatric hospital.
Patients: Trained telephone interviewers obtained reports from parents of children discharged from the hospital during specified months. This report is based on the answers to 122 questions provided by 3622 (77%) of 4724 parents who responded when surveyed from 1991 through 1995.
Main outcome measures: Parents provided reports about specific clinical experiences, overall ratings of care, and patient demographic and illness characteristics 2 weeks after patient discharge from the hospital. The analysis classified reports about pediatric care as either problems or not problems. Problems in different areas of care were averaged to create scores for the dimensions.
Results: Parents most often noted problems related to hospital discharge planning (18%) and pain management (18%) and less often reported problems concerning communication about surgery (10%) or transmission of information to children (6%). Problems in communication between clinicians and parents correlated most strongly with overall quality ratings by parents (r=0.59). Parents' specific reports of problems with care accounted for 42% of the variation in their overall assessments of the inpatient care experience.
Conclusions: Parental assessment of inpatient pediatric care rests heavily on the quality of communication between the clinician and parent. Specific processes of care strongly influence overall assessments. Such reports could be used to focus the quality-improvement activities of hospitals and increase the accountability of providers of care to children and families.