Background: Assessment of patients' views are essential to provide a patient-centred health service and to evaluating quality of care. As no standardized and validated system for measuring patients' experiences in accident and emergency departments existed, we have developed the Consumer Quality index for the accident and emergency department (CQI A&E).
Methods: Qualitative research has been undertaken to determine the content validity of the CQI A&E. In order to assess psychometric characteristics an 84-item questionnaire was sent to 653 patients who had attended a large A&E in the Netherlands. Also, fifty importance questions were added to determine relevance of the questions and for future calculations of improvement scores. Exploratory factor analysis was applied to detect the domains of the questionnaire.
Results: Survey data of 304 (47%) patients were used for the analysis. The first exploratory factor analysis resulted in three domains based on 13 items: 'Attitude of the healthcare professionals', 'Environment and impression of the A&E' and 'Respect for and explanation to the patient'. The first two had an acceptable internal consistency. The second analysis, included 24 items grouped into 5 domains: 'Attitude of the healthcare professionals', 'Information and explanation', 'Environment of the A&E','Leaving the A&E' and 'General information and rapidity of care'. All factors were internal consistent. According to the patients, the three most important aspects in healthcare performance in the A&E were: trust in the competence of the healthcare professionals, hygiene in the A&E and patients' health care expectations. In general, the highest improvement scores concerned patient information.
Conclusions: The Consumer Quality index for the accident and emergency department measures patients' experiences of A&E healthcare performance. Preliminary psychometric characteristics are sufficient to justify further research into reliability and validity.