JOURNAL ARTICLE

Determinants of patient satisfaction and willingness to return with emergency care

B C Sun, J Adams, E J Orav, D W Rucker, T A Brennan, H R Burstin
Annals of Emergency Medicine 2000, 35 (5): 426-34
10783404

STUDY OBJECTIVE: To identify emergency department process of care measures that are significantly associated with satisfaction and willingness to return.

METHODS: Patient satisfaction and willingness to return at 5 urban, teaching hospital EDs were assessed. Baseline questionnaire, chart review, and 10-day follow-up telephone interviews were performed, and 38 process of care measures and 30 patient characteristic were collected for each respondent. Overall satisfaction was modeled with ordinal logistic regression. Willingness to return was modeled with logistic regression.

RESULTS: During a 1-month study period, 2,899 (84% of eligible) on-site questionnaires were completed. Telephone interviews were completed by 2,333 patients (80% of patients who completed a questionnaire). Patient-reported problems that were highly correlated with satisfaction included help not received when needed (odds ratio [OR] 0.345; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.261 to 0.456), poor explanation of causes of problem (OR 0.434; 95% CI 0.345 to 0.546), not told about potential wait time (OR 0.479; 95% CI 0.399 to 0.577), not told when to resume normal activities (OR 0.691; 95% CI 0.531 to 0.901), poor explanation of test results (OR 0.647; 95% CI 0.495 to 0.845), and not told when to return to the ED (OR 0.656; 95% CI 0. 494 to 0.871). Other process of care measures correlated with satisfaction include nonacute triage status (OR 0.701, 95% CI 0.578 to 0.851) and number of treatments in the ED (OR 1.164 per treatment; 95% CI 1.073 to 1.263). Patient characteristics that significantly predicted less satisfaction included younger age and black race. Determinants of willingness to return include poor explanation of causes of problem (OR 0.328; 95% CI 0.217 to 0.495), unable to leave a message for family (OR 0.391; 95% CI 0.226 to 0. 677), not told about potential wait time (OR 0.561; 95% CI 0.381 to 0.825), poor explanation of test results (OR 0.541; 95% CI 0.347 to 0.846), and help not received when needed (OR 0.537; 95% CI 0.340 to 0.846). Patients with a chief complaint of hand laceration were less willing to return compared with a reference population of patients with abdominal pain. Willingness to return is strongly predicted by overall satisfaction (OR 2.601; 95% CI 2.292 to 2.951).

CONCLUSION: These data identify specific process of care measures that are determinants of patient satisfaction and willingness to return. Efforts to increase patient satisfaction and willingness to return should focus on improving ED performance on these identified process measures.

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