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.