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Patient Satisfaction Survey Needs Improving

Media Release
May 2, 2006

Patient Satisfaction Survey Needs Improving

Survey methods checking satisfaction of hospital in-patients could be improved according to recent research by the Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago.

A Masters in Public Health research project by Kaye Gilhooley, has found that compulsory monthly surveys of randomly selected inpatients across District Health Boards do not adequately meet the purposes meant to be achieved; that is monitoring what inpatients think of their hospital experience.

Monitoring is important to help ensure standards of care in hospitals are maintained and improved. This study looked at whether the present survey system is adequate, and found it wanting on a number of counts.

Ms Gilhooley says this is partly because of the design of the inpatient survey which puts an emphasis on ‘satisfaction ratings’ rather than ‘experience reports ‘ which are now internationally accepted as being more useful.

“Experience reports asks the patient to explain specific details of their inpatient experience, such as whether a nurse called them by their preferred name,” says Kaye Gilhooley. “On the other hand satisfaction reports often result in generalised answers which are not helpful enough in improving quality of care in hospitals.”

To determine what might work best in NZ a set of criteria has been developed by health experts and used to assess the type of feedback expected from patients. The survey now used in hospitals did not meet these criteria on a number of grounds:

- Reliance on satisfaction ratings

- Reliance on forced choice questions, and lack of space for longer responses.

- Inconsistent administration by DHB’s and unsatisfactory analysis of results by the Ministry of Health

The MoH is aware of this study and is considering its findings.


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