Patient satisfaction in neurological second opinions and tertiary referrals

J Neurol. 2010 Nov;257(11):1869-74. doi: 10.1007/s00415-010-5625-1. Epub 2010 Jun 15.


Although the number of neurological second opinions (SOs) and tertiary referrals (TRs) is increasing, only little is known about expectations and patient satisfaction in this group of patients. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore expectations of patients who get a neurological SO or TR and to assess patient satisfaction in these groups of patients. All new patients attending an academic neurological day-care clinic in a 6-month period were investigated. Demographic characteristics, duration of symptoms, expectations and motivation, new diagnoses and treatment consequences were studied, and patient satisfaction with the previous physician and the day-care clinic physician was assessed. Three hundred consecutive patients (183 SOs and 117 TRs) were evaluated. SO patients were younger (47 years vs. 51 years), and their duration of symptoms was longer (24 vs. 13 months) than TR patients. Most patients expected a new diagnosis or treatment (60%). SO patients were equally as satisfied with the day-care clinic consultation as TR patients (overall satisfaction using a VAS-score ranging 0-10: 7.4 vs. 7.5; p = 0.81), and significantly less satisfied with the referring physician (overall satisfaction: 5.6 vs. 7.0; p < 0.001). SO patients, in particular, were more satisfied with the degree of information and emotional support provided by the consulting neurologist as compared to the referring physician. Receiving a new diagnosis and/or treatment advice did not influence satisfaction. A day-care admission for neurological SO and TR leads to an increase of patient satisfaction, irrespective of making a new diagnosis or initiation of a new treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult