Background: The Practice Accreditation and Improvement Survey (PAIS) is an endorsed instrument by the Australian General Practice Accreditation Limited (AGPAL) for seeking patient views as part of the accreditation of Australian general practices.
Method: From September 1998 to August 2000, a total of 53,055 patients completed the PAIS within 449 general practices across Australia, which is about 8% of all Australian general practices. The validity and reliability of the PAIS instrument was assessed during the study. Patient views were also analysed via 27 items relating to doctors' interpersonal skills, access, availability and patient information.
Results: PAIS was found to have sound validity and reliability measures. Patient evaluations showed a range of scores for the 27 items (69-91%). Lower scoring areas were issues about access, availability and availability of information for patients.
Discussion: Users of general practice rate the doctors' interpersonal skills (capability) more highly than other practice service issues (capacity). There is, in patients' views, much more room for improving these capacity aspects of general practice.
Conclusion: Future research should explore how practices act on the results of patient feedback, and which practice based strategies are more effective in raising standards of care from a patient's perspective.