Patient satisfaction with hospital care provided by hospitalists and primary care physicians

J Hosp Med. 2012 Feb;7(2):131-6. doi: 10.1002/jhm.973. Epub 2011 Oct 31.


Background: Compared to hospital care provided by primary care physicians (PCPs), the hospitalist model provides equal-to-superior efficiency and outcomes; however, little is known about how the model affects patient satisfaction.

Methods: Random patient satisfaction telephone interviews were conducted on discharged adult medicine inpatients at 3 Massachusetts hospitals between 2003 and 2009. Questionnaires included variables assessing patient satisfaction with various physician care domains. Patient age, gender, admission year, education level, language, illness severity, emergency room admission status, institution, and attending physician type were extracted from billing records. We used adjusted multivariable models to compare patient satisfaction with hospitalists and PCPs for domains of: physician care quality, physician behavior, pain management, communication.

Results: Inpatients completed discharge surveys for 8295 encounters (3597 hospitalist, 4698 PCP). Multivariate-adjusted satisfaction scores for physician care quality were slightly higher for PCPs than hospitalists (4.24 vs 4.20, P = 0.04); there was no statistical difference at any individual hospital, and no difference among different hospitalist groups. Patient ratings of hospitalists and PCPs for behavior, pain control, and communication were equivalent (all P values >0.23). In multivariable models, hospitalists and PCPs had similar adjusted proportions in the highest satisfaction category (79.2% vs 80.5%, respectively, P = 0.17) and lowest category (5.1% vs 4.5%, respectively, P = 0.19). Quality ratings of both groups improved equivalently (P slope interaction = 0.47) but significantly over time (PCP 4.21 (2003) to 4.36 (2009), hospitalist 4.11 to 4.33, P Δ <0.001).

Conclusions: Patients appear similarly satisfied with inpatient care provided by several hospitalist models and by primary care physicians.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Hospitalists / standards*
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Physicians, Primary Care / standards*
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*