Patient satisfaction depends on expectation not care

Patient satisfaction with healthcare depends more on expectations and other external factors than on experiences of care, a US study suggests. By Laura James.

The research was conducted using the World Health Survey, which involved 71 countries mainly in the EU from 2002 and 2003.

Patients were surveyed face-to-face interviews. Their response to eight domains, such as choice, communication, dignity, prompt attention and support in the health system were measured on a scoring system to establish satisfaction.

Individuals over 70 years old were more likely to be satisfied with the health system than 18 to 29 year olds. This is probably because of higher patient expectations, determined by education as well as age, the researchers say.

Sara Bleich, of Baltimore University’s department of health policy and management, and colleagues said: ‘The degree of reported satisfaction varied widely across countries with similar health outcomes. Differences in healthcare financing and delivery cannot explain a large proportion of the difference in satisfaction ratings among countries.

‘Some of our findings after adjustment for patient experience were surprising. We found lower satisfaction among people receiving care from private providers, higher satisfaction among individuals receiving inpatient rather than outpatient care, and lower satisfaction among inhabitants of countries with higher immunisation coverage,’ they added.

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