Feedback regarding patient evaluations of health care is expected to be a tool for quality improvement. This study examined the response of general practitioners to such feedback in a randomised trial. Practitioners in the intervention group read and discussed the feedback report and then reported on a range of actions that can be undertaken to improve the quality of care. Their communication behaviour was not found to change. All of the practitioners were highly motivated to learn from patient views, both at baseline and after the intervention period. Compared to the control group, the practitioners in the intervention group had less favourable views of the relevance of patient feedback for their practice after the receipt of such feedback. Furthermore, these practitioners felt that a patient survey required considerable time and energy and saw little reason for change. Although patient feedback can help identify areas for improvement, specific barriers must be addressed before such feedback can be put to more widespread use.