Patient satisfaction of female and male users of veterans health administration services


OBJECTIVE: To compare patient satisfaction of male and female users of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) services.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study based on secondary analysis of data from VHA’s Survey of Healthcare Experiences of Patients (SHEP).

PATIENTS: National random sample of 107,995 outpatients and 112,817 inpatients in FY2004.

MEASURES: Patient’s ratings of overall quality (OQ) and unique dimensions of satisfaction. Sociodemographic and health-related patient attributes.

ANALYSIS: Bivariate unadjusted analyses of the association between gender and other patient attributes and the outcomes of OQ and dimensions of satisfaction were conducted followed by multivariate analyses for each outcome, adjusting for demographic and health variables.

RESULTS: Significant differences between female and male reporting of satisfaction were found in the unadjusted analyses with males showing greater levels of satisfaction than females (P<.05). These differences disappeared or became smaller for both outpatient and inpatient services, after adjusting for covariates. For 6 of the inpatient dimensions (Transitions, Physical Comfort, Involvement Family and Friends, Courtesy, Coordination, and Access) males had higher satisfaction than females after statistical adjustment.

CONCLUSIONS: After adjustment for patient attributes, female VHA outpatients report similar OQ with VHA services as male patients. The fact that some inpatient dimensions of satisfaction continued to show effects favoring males even after adjustment suggests areas for continued focus in improving health care quality. Covariate adjustment is essential for evaluating satisfaction with health care services. Breaking down overall satisfaction into independent aspects of services is useful. The SHEP survey has provided a useful tool for evaluating and improving satisfaction among its VHA veteran users.

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Correspondence to Dr. Steven M. Wright PhD.

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The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Wright, S.M., Craig, T., Campbell, S. et al. Patient satisfaction of female and male users of veterans health administration services. J GEN INTERN MED 21, S26–S32 (2006) doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00371.x

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Key words

  • patient satisfaction
  • service quality
  • gender
  • veterans