Background: Patient evaluations are widely used in quality assessment of health services. It is widely recognized that patients and professionals provide a different perspective on quality. However, the extent to which they differ and the conceptual areas in which they differ is not well understood.
Objectives: We sought to examine how well professional and patient assessments of hospital health care correspond.
Methods: We undertook a prospective study in which information from a national clinical register was combined with questionnaires to patients, surgeons, and nurses. The study included 527 patients after surgery for colorectal cancer. The patients and their professionals assessed the same questions. For 336 patients, all questionnaires and register information were available. The response rate was 64%. The main measures were assessments of technical, interpersonal, and organizational aspects of care. Agreement was analyzed by kappa statistic, κ, and McNemar's test.
Results: Comparing assessments of technical surgical care κ statistic demonstrated moderate-to-almost perfect agreement (0.35 ≤ κ ≤ 0.95). Assessments of technical nursing care demonstrated slight agreement (0.19 ≤ κ ≤ 0.26). Comparing answers to questions on interpersonal or organizational care, κ statistic revealed only slight or no more agreement than expected by chance (-0.06 ≤ κ ≤ 0.30). For several items, McNemar's test revealed a significant difference in the distribution of answers.
Conclusions: Within a Danish population undergoing treatment of colorectal cancer, there were significant differences in perceptions of care between patients and health professionals. In particular, health professionals and readers of reports on patient evaluations ought to remember that patients' perspective is just one source of information in assessment of hospital health care.