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J Rural Health. 1991 Fall;7(5):542-59.

The WAMI Rural Hospital Project. Part 5: Community perception of local health care services.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


Rural health care facilities commonly employ community health care surveys as marketing research instruments to assess consumer utilization of and satisfaction with local services. However, there is little information on the use of survey findings as a way to design interventions to enhance consumer satisfaction and hospital viability. A community survey was administered in six Northwest rural communities as part of the Rural Hospital Project (RHP) to identify weaknesses in local health care services, guide remedial activities, act as a catalyst for change, and assess changes in community perceptions following project interventions. Descriptive findings revealed problems typically observed in small rural communities, including relatively low hospital and physician market share, outmigration for certain types of health care not available locally, and dissatisfaction with some aspects of hospital and physician services. Satisfaction with various aspects of care tended to be lower among males, the uninsured, and younger respondents. Comparisons of survey responses before (1985) and after (1989) the RHP generally demonstrated stability in hospital and physician market share, with project hospitals performing well in 1989 in comparison to other rural hospitals of similar size. The percentage of respondents who rated overall quality of local hospital and physician care positively generally increased or remained stable over the study period. Substantial decreases in satisfaction levels were found for access to care. Importantly, gains were made in those areas and services which received particular emphasis in the project.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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