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Acad Med. 1996 Dec;71(12):1353-6.

Physicians' attitudes toward using patient reports to assess quality of care.

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  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Care Research, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.



Patients' reports about their care, including reports about specific physician behaviors, are increasingly being used to assess quality of care. The authors surveyed physicians in an academic environment about their attitudes concerning possible uses of these reports.


A survey was conducted of the 540 hospital- and community-based internists and housestaff at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1993-94. The survey instrument included seven items designed to assess the physicians' views about potential uses of patient reports about their care. The physicians were asked to rate the items on a five-point scale (ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree").


A total of 343 (64%) of the physicians responded. Eighty-six percent agreed that patient judgments are important in assessing quality of care. There was widespread agreement with four potential uses of patient judgments: for changing a specific physician behavior (94% agreed), for receiving feedback from patients (90%), for use in physician education programs (81%), and for evaluating students and housestaff (72%). However, far fewer of the physicians agreed with two uses over which physicians would have less control: publishing judgments to help patients select physicians (28% agreed) and the use of judgments to influence physician compensation (16%). While the housestaff were less likely to agree with the use of patient reports in housestaff evaluations, the housestaff and faculty had similar opinions about all the other potential uses.


The physicians believed that patients' reports about experiences with their physicians are valid indicators of quality. They responded that they would accept using these reports to improve care when the uses are nonthreatening and within the control of physicians. In contrast, there was far less support when the uses are external to physician control and potentially threatening.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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