What is quality anyway? Performance reports that clearly communicate to consumers the meaning of quality of care

Med Care Res Rev. 2010 Jun;67(3):275-93. doi: 10.1177/1077558709356300. Epub 2010 Jan 21.


While there has been considerable work to identify ways to make the quality measures contained in comparative reports more understandable and digestible for consumers, there has been almost no research looking at ways to make the overall concept of health care quality more understandable and accessible to consumers. In this study, the authors determine the impact of providing a framework for understanding quality on the comprehension and salience of quality information. The study uses an experimental design and tests the effect of providing a framework for describing quality of care, as well as plain language descriptions of quality indicators. The findings indicate that when providing a framework and using plain language to describe quality indicators, consumers were better able to understand and to see greater value in the information, as compared to participants who saw a report that had neither of these attributes. The policy and practice implications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Comprehension*
  • Consumer Health Information
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*
  • United States
  • Young Adult