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Congruent Satisfaction: Is There Geographic Correlation Between Patient and Physician Satisfaction?

DeVoe, Jennifer MD, DPhil*; Fryer, George E. Jr PhD†; Straub, Alton MSc‡; McCann, Jessica MS§; Fairbrother, Gerry PhD¶

doi: 10.1097/01.mlr.0000241048.85215.8b
Brief Report

Context: Satisfaction among both physicians and patients is optimal for the delivery of high-quality healthcare. Although some links have been drawn between physician and patient satisfaction, little is known about the degree of satisfaction congruence among physicians and patients living and working in geographic proximity to each other.

Objective: We sought to identify patients and physicians from similar geographic sites and to examine how closely patients’ satisfaction with their overall healthcare correlates with physicians’ overall career satisfaction in each selected site.

Methods: We undertook a cross-sectional analysis of data from 3 rounds of the Community Tracking Study (CTS) Household and Physician Surveys (1996–1997, 1998–1999, 2000–2001), a nationally representative telephone survey of patients and physicians. We studied randomly selected participants in the 60 CTS communities for a total household population of 179,127 patients and a total physician population of 37,238. Both physicians and patients were asked a variety of questions pertaining to satisfaction.

Results: Satisfaction varied by region but was closely correlated between physicians and patients living in the same CTS sites. Physician career satisfaction was more strongly correlated with patient overall healthcare satisfaction than any of the other aspects of the healthcare system (Spearman's rank correlation coefficient 0.628, P < 0.001). Patient trust in the physician was also highly correlated with physician career satisfaction (0.566, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Despite geographic variation, there is a strong correlation between physician and patient satisfaction living in similar geographic locations. Further analysis of this congruence and examination of areas of incongruence between patient and physician satisfaction may aid in improving the healthcare system.

From the *Department of Family Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon; †New York University School of Medicine, NYU Center for Child Health Research, New York, New York; ‡Portland State University, Portland, Oregon; §The Robert Graham Center: Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, Washington, DC; and ¶Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Health Policy & Clinical Effectiveness, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Reprints: Jennifer DeVoe, MD, DPhil, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University, 3181 Sam Jackson Park Rd, mailcode: FM, Portland, OR 97239. E-mail: devoej@ohsu.edu.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.