Patient satisfaction and rehabilitation services

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1998 Sep;79(9):1122-8. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(98)90182-4.


Objective: Despite the widespread use of patient satisfaction measures, there has been only a small amount of research and writing on the topic in rehabilitation. This article reviews selectively the large amount of literature on satisfaction in health care, examines work in rehabilitation settings, and highlights issues in patient satisfaction, given the unique circumstances of rehabilitation services.

Data sources: A Medline search was made of the past 10 years using descriptors related to patient satisfaction, rehabilitation, and selected diagnostic categories. Additional sources came from references on satisfaction accumulated by the author over the past 20 years.

Study selection: Because of the voluminous literature, findings from existing reviews were emphasized, particularly those using meta-analytic methods. All articles that involved satisfaction in rehabilitation settings were included.

Data synthesis: Research in health care generally shows high levels of satisfaction. Personal aspects of care, including full communication, are the most important predictors, whereas age, education, and social status show weak relationships with rating levels. Dissatisfied patients tend to seek other providers. Higher satisfaction is associated with patient compliance and better outcomes. Levels of satisfaction are especially high in rehabilitation.

Conclusions: Measures of patient satisfaction with rehabilitation should include items regarding progress and degree of return to independent living. Responses of proxies answering in place of patients should not be regarded as equivalent to patients' opinions. The field is in need of standard, validated measures appropriate for various settings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Rehabilitation / psychology*