This site is intended for health professionals only

GP patient survey under scrutiny

By Ian Quinn

New research from the University of Bristol has called into question the value of the GP patient survey.

It claims it is better to ask patients about their actual experiences of care by GPs rather than ask for satisfaction ratings.

Researchers set out to explore whether responses to survey questions reflect differences between practices, doctors or the patients themselves.

Using mathematical models, they analysed data from 4,573 patients who consulted 150 different doctors at 27 general practices in England.

They found that specific questions about patients' experiences, particularly access to care, are a more accurate measure of practice and doctor performance than questions about patients' general satisfaction.

They also found that responses vary according to patient characteristics such as age, sex, and ethnicity. However, adjusting for these characteristics made very little difference to practices' scores or the ranking of individual practices.