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Sick of Health Care Politics? Comparing Views of Quality of Care Between Democrats and Republicans

Scott, Kirstin W.; Blendon, Robert J.; Benson, John M.

The Journal for Healthcare Quality (JHQ): November/December 2016 - Volume 38 - Issue 6 - p e39–e51
doi: 10.1097/JHQ.0000000000000060
Original Article

Objective: Improving the quality of care delivered by the U.S. health care system is a topic of important policy and political debate. Although public opinion surveys have shown concerns regarding the state of quality of care nationally, the majority of Americans are satisfied with the quality of care they personally receive. Studies have shown that Republicans and Democrats may differ in these views.

Methods: We used a 2012 national survey of 1,508 American adults that captured perceptions of quality, political party, medical experiences, and self-reported interactions with the health care system due to an illness to examine these differences.

Results: Regardless of having a recent illness or hospitalization, Democrats generally expressed greater concerns about the country's state of health care quality relative to Republicans. Partisan differences also emerged when identifying the most important problems contributing to quality-of-care deficiencies in the nation. However, partisan differences were nonexistent on measures related to self-reported experiences with quality of care.

Conclusion: Although their individual experiences with quality of care do not differ, Republicans and Democrats differ in their views on national quality-of-care issues. This may have implications for efforts to improve quality of care in the current polarized healthcare environment.

For more information on this article, contact Kirstin W. Scott at

Author contributions: All authors contributed to the development of the research question, interpretation of the findings, and review of the final version of the manuscript.

Presentations: Findings presented at both the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) conference (Anaheim, CA; May 17, 2014) and the AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting (San Diego, CA; June 10, 2014).

Funders: This project was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. At the time that this project was conducted, K. W. Scott was funded through grant number T32HS00055 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and grant number NSF 13-584 from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or National Science Foundation.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2016 National Association for Healthcare Quality
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