Background: High-quality fertility care should be effective and safe, but also patient-centred. However, a suitable instrument for measuring patient-centredness is lacking. This study aims to develop and validate an instrument that can reliably measure patient-centredness in fertility care: patient-centredness questionnaire-infertility (PCQ-infertility).
Methods: The PCQ's content, addressing 53 care aspects, was generated by seven focus groups with 54 infertile patients. Besides background questions, the questionnaire included one 'experience item' and one 'importance item' for each care aspect. Thirty Dutch fertility clinics were invited to participate in the validation study. The questionnaire was sent at random to 1200 infertile couples. Psychometric tests included inter-item and reliability analyses. Importance scores were calculated. The discriminative power was determined using multilevel analysis.
Results: The questionnaire was completed by 888 infertile couples (net response 75%) from 29 clinics. The ultimate PCQ-infertility, comprising 46 items and seven subscales, appeared reliable and valid for measuring patient-centredness in fertility care. Of the seven subscales, 'communication' received the best ratings and 'continuity' the worst. 'Honesty and clearness on what to expect from fertility care' appeared most important to patients. Significant differences between clinics were found, even after case-mix adjustment.
Conclusion: This study resulted in a valid, reliable and strongly discriminating instrument for measuring patient-centredness in fertility care. The PCQ-infertility can identify shortcomings on patient-centredness and can be adopted for quality improvement. Therefore, fertility care can now be monitored and benchmarked on patient-centredness, as well as on live birth and complication rates.