Objectives: The authors examine the relationship between three dimensions of patient satisfaction (quality of care, hospital care, and physician time) and two ways of looking at outcomes: absolute (status at 6 months after surgery) and relative (difference between baseline and follow-up status).
Methods: A total of 2,116 patients undergoing cholecystectomy were interviewed before surgery and again at 6 months. The baseline interview addressed health status (general functioning and specific symptoms) and risk factors. The follow-up interview included health status and a series of satisfaction questions. Outcomes included both overall health status and specific symptoms. Potential confounding factors, in addition to baseline status, such as demographics, casemix, and procedure type, were accounted for in the analysis.
Results: Each of the outcomes was related significantly to each of the satisfaction scales; however, the relative outcomes were related more strongly to satisfaction than were the absolute versions. Although the regression coefficients were highly significant, none of the outcomes measures accounted for more than 8% of the explained variance in the several satisfaction scores.
Conclusions: Although outcomes and satisfaction are related, more goes into satisfaction than just outcomes. When determining their satisfaction with the care they have received, patients are more likely to focus on their present state of health than to consider the extent of improvement they have enjoyed.