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BMC Health Serv Res. 2012 Feb 2;12:31. doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-12-31.

Service quality of private hospitals: the Iranian patients' perspective.

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Department of Health Management and Economics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.



Highly competitive market in the private hospital industry has caused increasing pressure on them to provide services with higher quality. The aim of this study was to determine the different dimensions of the service quality in the private hospitals of Iran and evaluating the service quality from the patients' perspective.


A cross-sectional study was conducted between October and November 2010 in Tehran, Iran. The study sample was composed of 983 patients randomly selected from 8 private general hospitals. The study questionnaire was the SERVQUAL questionnaire, consisting of 21 items in service quality dimensions.


The result of factor analysis revealed 3 factors, explaining 69% of the total variance. The total mean score of patients' expectation and perception was 4.91(SD = 0.2) and 4.02(SD = 0.6), respectively. The highest expectation and perception related to the tangibles dimension and the lowest expectation and perception related to the empathy dimension. The differences between perception and expectation were significant (p < 0.001). There was a significant difference between the expectations scores based on gender, education level, and previous hospitalization in that same hospital. Also, there was a significant difference between the perception scores based on insurance coverage, average length of stay, and patients' health conditions on discharge.


The results showed that SERVQUAL is a valid, reliable, and flexible instrument to monitor and measure the quality of the services in private hospitals of Iran. Our findings clarified the importance of creating a strong relationship between patients and the hospital practitioners/personnel and the need for hospital staff to be responsive, credible, and empathetic when dealing with patients.

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