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Patient satisfaction with surgeons in a trauma population: Testing a structural equation model using perceptions of interpersonal and technical care

Berg, Gina M. PhD; Ekengren, Francie MD; Lee, Felecia A. MA; Acuna, David DO; Burdsal, Charles PhD

The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: May 2012 - Volume 72 - Issue 5 - p 1316–1322
doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e318246496f
Original Articles

BACKGROUND: Research has shown that interpersonal care is positively associated with patient satisfaction. The literature is not as clear concerning patient perceptions of technical care. Evaluating patient satisfaction requires understanding the influence of patient perceptions of interpersonal and technical aspects of care.

METHODS: This prospective, cross-sectional telephone survey examined the relationship between patient satisfaction, interpersonal care, and technical care. Respondents were asked to recall the trauma surgeon and then rate them for satisfaction with interpersonal and technical care. Patients were also asked to rate their global satisfaction (GS) with the healthcare.

RESULTS: Structural equation modeling indicated that there was a significant direct effect of Interpersonal Care on Technical Care and Technical Care and Interpersonal Care on GS. Interpersonal care also had an indirect effect on GS though Technical Care. Fit indices showed that the hypothesized paths significantly improved the model.

CONCLUSIONS: There were strong positive relationships between patient's perceptions of interpersonal care and technical care and GS. Patients that are unacquainted with technical aspects of care may make judgments based on satisfaction with interpersonal aspects of care. It is important that surgeons, even in a trauma environment, are aware of the strong relationship between patients' perceptions of interpersonal and technical care. Making efforts to focus on relationship-centered care will improve both personal and institutional satisfaction ratings.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III, epidemiological study.

Wichita, Kansas

From the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health (G.M.B., F.L.), University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita, N. Kansas; Trauma Services (G.M.B., F.E., D.A.), Wesley Medical Center, Wichita, Kansas; and Department of Psychology (C.B.), Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas.

Submitted: July 5, 2011, Revised: November 11, 2011, Accepted: December 12, 2011.

Presented as a poster presentation discussing preliminary aggregate findings at the 2009 Annual Congress of Society of Critical Care Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.

Address for reprints: Gina M. Berg, PhD, Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita, 1010 N. Kansas, Wichita, KS 67214; email:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.