Informal complaints on health services: hidden patterns, hidden potentials

Int J Qual Health Care. 2007 Jun;19(3):158-63. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzm006. Epub 2007 Apr 19.


Objective: To examine the prevalence of informal complaints on health services among clients of Health Maintenance Organizations, and explore demographic correlates. Such complaints are a potentially important source of information regarding quality of healthcare.

Method: Primary data were collected by a phone survey from a nationwide random sample of 1500 persons aged 21+ in Israel.

Results: About 25% of the respondents reported a cause to complain, but only 9.5% actually complained. About 75% of the complainants submitted their grievances informally at the local level. Only a minority (17%) appealed to official bodies established by law. Minority groups and recent immigrants had significantly lower rates of reasons to complain and actual complaints.

Conclusions: Suggestions are made for outreach efforts to socially vulnerable groups and for developing organizational mechanisms for capturing and using future complaints submitted informally to front-line employees, which are the bulk of the complaints. Further research is needed regarding factors affecting customers complaining and non-complaining behavior, including factors that specifically affect the behavior of minority groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Health Services*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction*