Methods for measuring patient satisfaction with specific medical encounters

Med Care. 1988 Apr;26(4):393-402. doi: 10.1097/00005650-198804000-00008.


This paper presents the results of two studies that compared methods for measuring patient satisfaction with specific medical encounters. One form used six-point response scales ranging from "very satisfied" to "very dissatisfied" (S6 scale); the other used five-point scales ranging from "excellent" to "poor" (E5 scale). Forms were assigned randomly to outpatients in fee-for-service (N = 136) and prepaid systems of care (N = 363) and were compared in terms of response variability, reliability, and validity. In both studies, the E5 scales showed greater response variability and better predicted whether patients intended to return to the same doctor in the future, recommend the doctor to a friend, and comply with the medical regimen. Reliability was satisfactory and did not differ between methods. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for constructing visit-specific satisfaction rating scales.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / standards*
  • California
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Health Services Research / methods*
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires