Objective: This study aimed to analyze complaints of patients, their relatives, and friends who consulted a complaints center based (Espace Patients & Proches (EPP)) in a hospital so as to better understand the reasons that motivated them and their underlying expectations.
Methods: This study was based on the analysis of written accounts of the 253 situations that occurred during the first year of operation of the EPP. The accounts were analyzed qualitatively using an inductive, thematic analytic approach.
Results: We identified 372 different types of complaints and 28 main analytic themes. Five clustered themes emerged from the analysis of the interconnections among the core themes: (1) interpersonal relationship (N=160-the number of accounts including a complaint related to this general theme); (2) technical aspects of care (N=106); (3) health-care institution (N=69); (4) billing and insurance; (5) access to information (N=13).
Conclusion: The main reason for patients, their relatives, and friends going to EPP was related to the quality of the interpersonal relationship with health-care professionals. Such complaints were markedly more frequent than those concerning technical aspects of care.
Practice implications: These results raise important questions concerning changing patient expectations as well as how hospitals integrate complaints into the process of quality health care.
Keywords: Clinical communication; Complaints; Satisfaction.
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