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J Emerg Med. 2007 Jan;32(1):7-13.

The disconfirmation paradigm: throughput times and emergency department patient satisfaction.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Cooper University Hospital and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Camden, New Jersey 08103, USA.


This study examined the relationship between throughput times, expectations, and patient satisfaction using the Disconfirmation Paradigm (DP), which proposes that dissatisfaction arises when service expectations are not met. Before discharge or admission, adult emergency department (ED) patients estimated how long they waited for three intervals (Perceived Times): triage to patient care area, patient care area placement to physician evaluation, and physician evaluation to disposition. Acceptable waiting times and satisfaction for the same intervals were then provided by the subject (Acceptable Times and Throughput Time Satisfaction, respectively). Perceived Times were subtracted from Acceptable Times to yield an index of Expectancy Disconfirmation. There were 1118 (72%) of 1550 eligible patients interviewed. Throughput Time Satisfaction predicted overall satisfaction (r = 0.56 to 0.62, p < 0.001). In turn, Expectancy Disconfirmation predicted Wait Time Satisfaction (r = 0.42 to 0.64, p < 0.001). Consistent with the DP, when throughput times exceeded expectations, dissatisfaction with those throughput times arose, leading to general dissatisfaction with the ED visit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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