Development and psychometric properties of surveys to assess patient and family caregiver experience with care transitions

BMC Health Serv Res. 2021 Aug 9;21(1):785. doi: 10.1186/s12913-021-06766-w.


Background: The purpose of this study was to develop and administer surveys that assess patient and family caregiver experiences with care transitions and examine the psychometric properties of the surveys. The surveys were designed to ask about 1) the transitional care services that matter most to patients and their caregivers and 2) care outcomes, including the overall quality of transitional care they received, patient self-reported health, and caregiver effort/stress.

Methods: Survey items were developed based on a review of the literature, existing surveys, focus groups, site visits, stakeholder and expert input, and patient and caregiver cognitive interviews. We administered mail surveys with telephone follow up to patients recently discharged from 43 U.S. hospitals. Patients identified the caregivers who helped them during their hospital stay (Time 1 caregiver) and when they were home (Time 2 caregiver). Time 1 and Time 2 caregivers were surveyed by telephone only. The psychometric properties of the survey items and outcome composite measures were examined for each of the three surveys. Items that performed poorly across multiple analyses, including those with low variability and/or a high missing data, were dropped except when they were conceptually important.

Results: The analysis datasets included responses from 9282 patients, 1245 Time 1 caregivers and 1749 Time 2 caregivers. The construct validity of the three proposed outcome composite measures-Overall Quality of Transitional Care (patient and caregiver surveys), Patient Overall Health (patient survey) and Caregiver Effort/Stress (caregiver surveys) -was supported by acceptable exploratory factor analysis results and acceptable internal consistency reliability. Site-level reliability was acceptable for the two patient outcome composite measures, but was low for Caregiver Effort/Stress (< 0.70). In all surveys, the Overall Quality of Transitional Care outcome composite measure was significantly correlated with other outcome composite measures and most of the single-item measures.

Conclusions: Overall, the final patient and caregiver surveys are psychometrically sound and can be used by health systems, hospitals, and researchers to assess the quality of care transitions and related outcomes. Results from these surveys can be used to improve care transitions, focusing on what matters most to patients and their family caregivers.

Keywords: Caregivers; Hospitals; Patient experience; Patients; Psychometrics; Quality of healthcare; Surveys and questionnaires; Transitional care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers*
  • Humans
  • Patient Transfer*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires