Healthcare research recognizes that 'satisfaction' is an important health outcome of the medical encounter. As a result, many healthcare professions have pursued the development and validation of instruments for measuring patient satisfaction. However, veterinary medicine has developed and properly validated few instruments for measuring client satisfaction. This paper describes the development and psychometric assessment of an instrument for measuring appointment-specific client satisfaction in companion-animal practice. We developed the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire (CSQ) in four main phases. Phase I relied on a series of six pet-owner focus groups (n=32) to explore clients' expectations of veterinary care to provide a basis for constructing items for the CSQ. Phase II involved developing items for a first draft of the CSQ, using the content and themes taken from the pet-owner focus groups. In phase III we pre-tested the first draft with six veterinarians in companion-animal practice and a convenience sample of their clients (n=129). Data from the pre-test were used to test the initial psychometric characteristics of each item. Together with participant feedback, these findings were used to design the final, 15-item CSQ. Phase IV involved psychometrically testing the final, 15-item CSQ as part of a larger observational study involving 20 veterinarians and 344 of their clients. We used data from this sample to assess the reliability and validity of the CSQ in companion-animal practice. Assessment was based on descriptive statistics, principal-component analysis, generalizability theory and linear mixed modeling. Findings demonstrate excellent reliability (G-coefficient for internal consistency=0.96) and support the face, content and construct validity of the CSQ as a measure of appointment-specific client satisfaction in companion-animal practice.
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