Objective: This study was designed to determine whether there are differences in how patients quantitatively rate their inpatient service in a given section of a patient satisfaction survey based on the types of qualitative comments they make about that given section.
Methods: The population under study was patients discharged from The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute at Ohio State University from April 1 to June 30, 2006. A sample of 1468 questionnaires was mailed. A total of 446 completed questionnaires were returned for a response rate of 30%, and 1068 comments were offered by the respondents.
Results: An analysis of variance determined statistically significant differences between the ratings and the comment types in all 10 sections of the survey. A Bonferroni post hoc test revealed that the scale ratings were higher for patients who made positive comments than for patients who made negative comments for 8 of the 10 survey sections. A positive comment produced a higher mean score than did a negative comment.
Conclusion: The study results offer empirical evidence that there are differences in how patients quantitatively rate the services received in a hospital based on patient comment types. Hospital staff interpreting patient satisfaction survey results could say that negative comments produce lower quantitative ratings than do positive comments.