Background: Patient satisfaction represents an essential part of quality management. Measuring the degree of patient satisfaction can be achieved with a variety of tools such as postoperative visits and patient questionnaires. The primary aim of this study was to quantify the degree of patient satisfaction with anaesthesia. A secondary aim was to compare the questionnaire technique with standardised face-to-face interviewing.
Methods: The authors prospectively studied 700 patients on the second postoperative day. Patients were randomised and allocated to complete either a written questionnaire or to answer the same questions during a standardised face-to-face interview. The questionnaire was subdivided into a set of questions on anaesthesia-related discomfort and another set on satisfaction with anaesthesia care in general. The questions on discomfort were assessed on a 3-point scale, and those on patient satisfaction on a 4-point scale.
Results: Response rate was 84% (589 of 700 patients). Internal consistency, as measured by Cronbach's alpha, was 0.84. When evaluating the questions on anaesthesia-related discomfort, the most frequent sensations were "drowsiness" (>75%), "pain at the surgical site" (>55%), and "thirst" (>50%). The data on patient satisfaction showed a high degree of satisfaction (>90%). The responses to questions on anaesthesia-related discomfort revealed only minor differences between the questionnaire and the face-to-face interview. The questions on satisfaction with anaesthesia, however, were answered consistently in a more critical manner during the interview (P<0.0001).
Conclusions: The standardised interview may be more suited to determine patient satisfaction than a questionnaire. Quality improvements are possible for emergence from anaesthesia, postoperative pain therapy, and the treatment of postoperative nausea and vomiting.