Objective: To examine the effect of perceived health status on three components of patient satisfaction.
Methods: The Household Component of the 1999 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey for people 35-64 years of age was used to examine the effect of perceived health status on patient satisfaction measured in terms of access to care, provider quality and quality of care. Descriptive statistics and multivariate regression were used to describe the subjects and to examine the relationship between patient satisfaction and perceived health status controlling for patient demographic factors, health factors and provider characteristics. All analyses used STATA 8.0 which is designed to analyze weighted data.
Results: A total of 4,417 patients (71% women) met the inclusion criteria for the study. Patients who rated their health excellent or good scored higher on the three dimensions of patient satisfaction. Higher scores on one or more components of patient satisfaction were associated with being older, married, better educated and having higher income, health insurance and good mental health. Seeing the health-care provider for an old problem resulted in lower levels of patient satisfaction. Provider characteristics significantly related to patient satisfaction were listening to the patient, being a specialist, seeing patients in an office setting and being located in the South.
Conclusions: This study has shown that patient satisfaction is influenced by a person's self-perceived health status and other personal characteristics that are external to the delivery of health care. These findings suggest that patient satisfaction data should be used judiciously because a significant portion of the variation may be attributed to factors endogenous to the patient and therefore are not amenable to provider intervention.