The Association between Patient-Centered Attributes of Care and Patient Satisfaction


Background and objective

Little is known about the attributes of care that most strongly impact satisfaction in real-world settings where patients’ limited medical knowledge may restrict their ability to ascertain the true quality of care. We therefore examined the association between patient-centered attributes of physician care (thoroughness, explanation, and listening), in-office waiting time, and patient satisfaction.


We used the Community Tracking Study Household Survey, a US nationally representative dataset (n = 71,594). Using logistic regression models, we analyzed the association between patient ratings of care attributes and patient satisfaction for the total sample and by subgroups, according to health status, physician type, and visit type.


Patients’ perception of excellent or very good care attributes was strongly associated with being very satisfied with care received (thoroughness of care, odds ratio [OR] 2.64, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 2.31–3.02; listening, OR 2.04, 95 % CI 1.77–2.36; explanation, OR 1.63, 95 % CI 1.42–1.86), as was a waiting time of ≤10 min (OR 1.50, 95 % CI 1.39–1.63). The effect magnitude of thoroughness on satisfaction is particularly strong relative to high-quality listening and explanation among respondents in poor health, and for whom the most recent office visit was to see a generalist or for curative care.


Thoroughness of care was the strongest determinant of patient satisfaction, followed by physician listening and explanation. Especially with patients’ improved access to current medical information, it is important for physicians to recognize that excellent communication cannot serve as a substitute for high-quality, thorough care.

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Dr. Tak had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. Drs. Tak, Ruhnke, and Shih have all made significant contributions in developing the hypotheses, designing and performing the empirical analysis, and writing and revising the manuscript. All the authors have approved the final manuscript and attest to the validity and legitimacy of the data, as well as its interpretation.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to this manuscript, including financial interests, activities, relationships, and affiliations with organizations or entities.

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Correspondence to Hyojung Tak.

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Tak, H., Ruhnke, G.W. & Shih, YC.T. The Association between Patient-Centered Attributes of Care and Patient Satisfaction. Patient 8, 187–197 (2015).

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  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Technical Quality
  • Physician Type
  • Care Attribute
  • Andersen Model