Patient satisfaction is a complex, multidimensional concept that is difficult to measure. However, there is agreement that understanding the expectations of a patient community or "what is important to them" is an essential consideration. We chose a participatory approach to address patient satisfaction in the context of a primary care teaching clinic.
The objectives of this project were to use a participatory research team of patients staff and researchers to (1) adapt an existing patient satisfaction questionnaire (PSQ) to the specific cultural and organizational elements ofa primary care teaching clinic, (2) administer the revised questionnaire and use the findings as a tool for organizational improvement, with the ultimate goal of increasing patient satisfaction, and (3) ensure that all decision making involved patients and staff to empower them in the process of organizational change.
We used an iterative, mixed methods approach to conduct this project. An interdisciplinary committee composed of members of the patient community, clinical and administrative staff, and researchers worked together as the primary decision making body.
We modified a preexisting questionnaire to address the unique care delivery model of the clinic, issues of cultural sensitivity, and the need for simplified language and response format. Patient dissatisfaction was found to center on continuity and access to care.
The participatory approach was critical to our success in understanding and measuring patient satisfaction from the patients' perspective. The involvement of the interdisciplinary committee and the high level of joint decision making in this project represents a unique contribution to assessing primary care patient satisfaction.