Measuring patient satisfaction: Insights from social psychology




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British Psychological Society



Peer reviewed


This article focuses on patient satisfaction, itself based on patient experience, as a means of tapping into patient quality of care. Current measures of patient satisfaction are inadequate. For instance, some do not acknowledge the role of cultural diversity, values, and identities in patient satisfaction. The main purpose of this article is to identify the aspects of an adequate measure of patient satisfaction. A brief review of existing scales is provided. More specifically, a small sample of scales in the following healthcare contexts is critically evaluated: primary care; out-of-hours primary care; outpatient care; nursing care; chronic illness care; integrated elderly care; mental health care; psychiatric care; and compassionate care. Various healthcare settings are explored in order to provide a more holistic overview of patient satisfaction. Drawing on a range of social psychological theories of identity, representation, and action, it is argued that an appropriate measure should be patient-focused and capture patients’ perceptions and experiences of the care they receive; it should be culturally sensitive and consider cultural values; and it should encompass both the physical and psychological dimensions of healthcare. Conclusions provide general recommendations regarding the items that could form part of a new measure of patient satisfaction in healthcare, including a set of generic items that should constitute its backbone. This new universal measure could facilitate more systematic data collection surrounding patient satisfaction as well as the comparison of patient satisfaction in distinct healthcare contexts. A multi-faceted measure of patient satisfaction drawing on social psychological principles will be a pivotal tool for collecting data that are conducive to the improvement of patient quality of care.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


Patient satisfaction, Patient experience, Patient-centred care, Quality of care, Psychology


Daramilas, C. and Jaspal, R. (2017) Measuring patient satisfaction: Insights from social psychology. Social Psychological Review, 19 (1), pp. 20-35.


Research Institute

Media Discourse Centre (MDC)
Mary Seacole Research Centre