Objectives: To determine whether patients' recommendation of their family doctor to others correlates with patient satisfaction scores, and to investigate other factors influencing patients' recommendation of doctor.
Design: Self-administered patient questionnaire.
Setting: Thirty-six family practice clinics, Slovenia.
Patients and methods: A total of 2160 consecutive adult patients attending the clinics were approached to complete a self-administered questionnaire, to be returned in a prepaid envelope. The questionnaire included validated tools, such as the EUROPEP questionnaire on patient satisfaction and gathered data on health-related quality of life, patient demographic, socio-economic and health characteristics, and attitudes and experience of health services. Patients also selected a response to the statement "I can strongly recommend my family doctor to my friends" on a five-point scale, from strongly disagree to strongly agree.
Results: Overall, 92% of respondents were in agreement with the statement that they would strongly recommend their family doctor to their friends. Patient satisfaction in the group of patients strongly agreeing with the statement was 11.1 points higher than that for the group responding they agreed only (92.4 versus 81.3 points; P<0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that 51.5% of the variation in the response to the statement could be explained by patient, doctor, and practice characteristics investigated.
Conclusion: Higher agreement with the statement "I can strongly recommend my family doctor to my friends" was shown to be associated with higher patient satisfaction with the doctor's working style, with some patient demographic characteristics, aspects of patients' health care utilisation, and some doctor characteristics. Using a simple question regarding recommendation of the doctor to friends can be used as a surrogate measure of patient satisfaction, but should be interpreted with caution.