Objective: To assess whether patients use information on quality of care when choosing a hospital for surgery compared with more general hospital information.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study in 3 Dutch hospitals, questionnaires were sent to 2122 patients who underwent 1 of 6 elective surgical procedures in 2005-2006 (aorta reconstruction [for treatment of aneurysm], cholecystectomy, colon resection, inguinal hernia repair, esophageal resection, thyroid surgery). Patients were asked which information they had used to choose this hospital and which information they intended to use if they would need similar surgical treatment in the future.
Results: In total, 1329 questionnaires were available for analysis (response rate 62.6%). Most patients indicated having used the hospital's good reputation (69.1%) and friendly hospital atmosphere (63.3%) to choose a hospital. For future choices, most patients intended to use the fact that they were already treated in that hospital (79.3%) and the hospital's good reputation (74.1%). Regarding quality-of-care information, patients preferred a summary measure (% patients with ''textbook outcome'') over separate more detailed measures (52.1% v. 38.0%, χ2 = 291, P < 0.01). For future choices, patients intend to use more information items than in 2005-2006, both in absolute terms (9 v. 4 items, t = 38.3, P < 0.01) as relative to the total number of available items (41.3% [40.1%-42.5%] v. 29.2% [28.1%-30.2%]).
Conclusion: Patients intended to use more information for future choices than they used for past choices. For future choices, most patients prefer a summary measure on quality of care over more detailed measures but seem to value that they were already treated in that hospital or a hospital's good reputation even more.