Measuring patient satisfaction for quality improvement

Med Care. 1999 Dec;37(12):1207-13. doi: 10.1097/00005650-199912000-00004.


Background: Surveys used for health plan quality reporting are generally administered annually to health plan enrollees to assess satisfaction with both the health plan and health care services. Therefore, surveys may lack sensitivity to measure the effects of patient-focused, quality improvement initiatives that could demonstrate results in a shorter time period.

Objectives: We describe the development and testing of a multidimensional, visit-specific measure of satisfaction with primary care that may be used in quality improvement.

Methods: Conducted in five adult and pediatric primary care sites serving a commercial, largely managed-care population, the survey includes the Medical Outcomes Study Visit-Specific Questionnaire, the American Board of Internal Medicine Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire, and locally developed items. We assessed the instrument's reliability, validity, and utility for quality improvement.

Results: For both adult and pediatric samples, three factors emerged: satisfaction with the provider, satisfaction with access, and satisfaction with the office. Satisfaction with the provider and with the office were independently correlated with overall satisfaction in both samples; satisfaction with access was significantly correlated with overall satisfaction only for adults. For adults, patients who disenrolled from the health plan were less satisfied with the office compared with patients who remained with the health plan. Finally, for adults, we detected significant differences across practice sites in terms of satisfaction with office and access; for children, there were intersite differences in terms of satisfaction with provider, office, and access.

Conclusions: We have support for the reliability and validity of this instrument that has identified differences in satisfaction between practice sites that may be used for quality improvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Correspondence as Topic
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Health Care Surveys / methods*
  • Health Services Accessibility / standards
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Managed Care Programs / standards
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • Telephone
  • Total Quality Management / organization & administration*
  • United States