The effect of different sampling and recall periods in the CAHPS Clinician & Group (CG-CAHPS) survey

Health Serv Res. 2019 Oct;54(5):1036-1044. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.13173. Epub 2019 May 27.


Objective: To examine the effect of changing the sampling and reference periods for the CAHPS® Clinician & Group Survey from 12 to 6 months.

Data sources/study setting: Adult patients with a visit in the last 12 months to New England community health centers.

Study design: We randomly assigned patients to receive a survey with either a 12- or 6-month recall period.

Data collection/extraction methods: Questionnaires were mailed to patients, with a second questionnaire mailed to nonrespondents, followed by six attempts to complete a telephone interview.

Principal findings: If the sampling criterion was a visit in the last 6 months, 9 percent of those with a visit in the last 12 months would not have been surveyed. A total of 1837 patients completed 6-month surveys (44.9 percent response rate); 588 completed 12-month surveys (46.0 percent response rate). Shortening the reference from 12 to 6 months reduced the proportion of respondents reporting a blood test, X-ray, or other tests. Adjusting for respondent characteristics, the most positive response was selected more often on the 6-month survey for 12 out of 13 questions, and three of these differences were statistically significant (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Surveys using a 6-month recall period may yield slightly higher scores than surveys with a 12-month recall period.

Keywords: CAHPS; patient experience surveys; survey methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Community Health Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys / standards*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New England
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors