Using the right tool to measure patient satisfaction can guide improved health care quality, according to a study in the August issue of Anesthesiology. In a comprehensive review of thousands of patient satisfaction studies, researchers identified several questionnaires physician anesthesiologists could use to ideally measure patient satisfaction in various clinical settings.
The study authors searched medical databases for studies published between 1980 and 2012 that used patient satisfaction as an outcome measure. After analyzing more than 3,000 studies, researchers eliminated the majority of them because they had not used appropriately developed and validated data gathering instruments. Thirty-four questionnaires met the researchers’ standard of validity for patient satisfaction instruments.
“Patient satisfaction is a key measure of health care quality,” said study author Sarah F. Barnett, M.B.B.S., B.Sc., F.R.C.A., Surgical Outcomes Research Center, University College Hospital, London. “However, there are many poorly constructed questionnaires out there; the results could be biased and inaccurate. Our goal was to give physician anesthesiologists valid questionnaires to help measure their practice as well as give models for future questionnaires.”
The study broke down 34 patient satisfaction questionnaires into categories and noted the highest-quality study for each category. The categories were: obstetric anesthesia care; general and regional anesthesia; local anesthesia delivery with sedation and analgesia; pediatric anesthesia care; pre-operative anesthesia assessment; and overall anesthesia experience from first point of contact to discharge.
The optimal patient satisfaction tool, according to the study, is multi-dimensional, looks at a patient’s satisfaction in several ways, and provides a means to translate subjective data, such as patient interview responses, into objective data. Future patient satisfaction questionnaires need to incorporate both qualitative and quantitative data, using a “mixed method” approach.
An accompanying editorial commented favorably on the study’s results. “Evaluating patient satisfaction will become particularly important with the expanded role of physician anesthesiologists as the perioperativist who care for patients before, during, and after surgery,” said editorial authors Jean-Francois Pittet, M.D. and Thomas R. Vetter, M.D., M.P.H., Department of Anesthesiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Ala. “With this expanded role, there is an urgent need to establish new approaches to evaluate patient satisfaction during the perioperative period.”
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