Understanding the quality challenge for health consumers: the Kaiser/AHCPR Survey

Jt Comm J Qual Improv. 1997 May;23(5):239-44. doi: 10.1016/s1070-3241(16)30313-3.


Background and purpose: "Americans as Health Care Consumers: The Role of Quality Information," a nationally representative telephone survey of 2,006 adults, designed by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (Kaiser) and the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was presented at the Kaiser/AHCPR conference "Value and Choice: Providing Consumers with Information on the Quality of Care" in Arlington, Virginia, October 29-30, 1996. The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates between July 16 and September 5, 1996, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Results: The survey found that Americans value quality but that the use of quality indicators is likely to be only one factor in their decision making, given their reliance on and preference for quality information from their physicians, friends, and family. A plurality (42%) chose having high quality of care as their most important concern, but only 39% reported seeing information comparing health plans, and only about one-third of that group said they used this information themselves to make decisions. The following are possible explanations for why consumers don't use information on quality in making health care decisions: They trust friends, families, and physicians about all other sources for advice; They do not (at the time of the survey) have many health plan choices to make; or They lack familiarity with comparative health care quality information.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Participation*
  • Decision Making
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Information Services*
  • Male
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Prepaid Health Plans
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • United States