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Med Care. 2005 May;43(5):453-60.

Patient satisfaction and use of Veterans Affairs versus non-Veterans Affairs healthcare services by veterans.

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Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Studies Program Coordinating Center, Hines VA Hospital, Hines, Illinois 60141, USA.



Chronically ill patients who are not satisfied with their care may change healthcare providers or systems, which could disrupt continuity of care and impede management of their conditions. We examined whether patient satisfaction affected subsequent use of non-Veterans Affairs (VA) services among chronically ill veterans discharged from VA hospitals.


The data used in this study came from a multicenter trial of increased access to primary care. We enrolled patients with diabetes, heart failure, and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who were discharged from 1 of 9 VA medical centers. At baseline, we assessed satisfaction using the Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire. VA and non-VA utilization over the subsequent 6 months were assessed using VA and Medicare administrative data, non-VA billing data, and patient interviews. Using multivariable logistic regression analyses, we examined whether baseline patient satisfaction was associated with non-VA inpatient or outpatient utilization during the next 6 months. We conducted the same analysis for Medicare-eligible veterans, a group with better access to non-VA care.


Of 1375 study patients, 174 (13%) used non-VA healthcare. Patients with non-VA utilization were older and lived farther from a VA. The odds of non-VA use decreased by 11% as satisfaction increased (odds ratio 0.89; 95% confidence interval 0.83-0.97; P = 0.005). This relationship was strongest among Medicare-eligible veterans (odds ratio 0.85; 95% confidence interval 0.77-0.93; P = 0.001).


Dissatisfied veterans discharged from the hospital were more likely to go outside VA for care. Thus, improvements in patient satisfaction may lead to improvements in continuity of care.

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