Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 19, Issue 11, pp 1088–1095 | Cite as

Satisfaction with the outpatient encounter

A comparison of patients’ and physicians’ views
  • Linda C. ZandbeltEmail author
  • Ellen M. A. Smets
  • Frans J. Oort
  • Mieke H. Godfried
  • Hanneke C. J. M. de Haes
Original Articles


OBJECTIVE: To compare patients’ and physicians’ visit-specific satisfaction in an internal medicine outpatient setting, and to explain their respective views.

DESIGN: Patients’ and physicians’ background characteristics were assessed prior to outpatient encounters. Immediately after the encounter, both patients and physicians completed a questionnaire assessing satisfaction with the visit.

SETTING: The outpatient division of an academic teaching hospital.

PARTICIPANTS: Thirty residents and specialists in general internal medicine, rheumatology, and gastroenterology, and 330 patients having a follow-up appointment with one of these physicians.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Patients’ and physicians’ visit-specific satisfaction was assessed using 5 Visual Analogue Scales (0 to 100). Patients’ overall satisfaction was higher than physicians’ satisfaction (mean 81 vs. 66), and correlation of patients’ and physicians’ overall satisfaction with the specific visit was medium sized (r=.28, P<.001). Patients’ satisfaction ratings were associated with their previsit self-efficacy in communicating with their physician (P<.001) and with visiting a female physician (P<.01). Physicians’ satisfaction was associated with patients’ higher educational level (P<.05), primary language being Dutch (P<.001), better mental health (P<.05), and preference for receiving less than full information (P<.05).

CONCLUSIONS: In an outpatient setting, patients’ visit-specific satisfaction ratings were substantially higher than, and only moderately associated with, physicians’ ratings of the same visit. The dissimilar predictors explaining patients’ and physicians’ satisfaction suggest that patients and physicians form their opinion about a consultation in different ways. Hence, when evaluating outpatient encounters, physicians’ satisfaction has additional value to patients’ satisfaction in establishing quality of care.

Key words

physician-patient relations patient satisfaction physician satisfaction outpatients 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda C. Zandbelt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ellen M. A. Smets
    • 1
  • Frans J. Oort
    • 1
  • Mieke H. Godfried
    • 2
  • Hanneke C. J. M. de Haes
    • 1
  1. 1.the Departments of Medical PsychologyAcademic Medical Center/University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Internal MedicineAcademic Medical Center/University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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