A study of patient expectations in a Norfolk general practice

Kenten, Charlotte, Bowling, Ann, Lambert, Nigel, Howe, Amanda and Rowe, Gene (2010) A study of patient expectations in a Norfolk general practice. Health Expectations, 13(3), pp. 237-284. ISSN (print) 1369-6513


OBJECTIVE: To use semi-structured interviews to ascertain patterns in patients' expectations of health care and the extent to which these expectations were met or not. BACKGROUND: In health policy it is important to evaluate health services from varying perspectives including consumers'. One concept of emerging importance in this regard is that of patient expectations. Whether expectations are met or not have been found to be related to general patient satisfaction with treatment and treatment compliance. However, there is conceptual and methodological uncertainty and little informing empirical work regarding what is an 'expectation' and how it should be measured. DESIGN: A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews to elicit 20 GP patients' expectations prior to their consultation. A post consultation interview gauged the extent to which these expectations had been met. SETTING AND PARTICIPANT: Twenty patients of a GP practice in Norfolk (UK). RESULTS: Results suggest several different expectations, concerned with the doctor-patient interaction, the specific processes of the consultation, outcomes, and issues to do with time and space. CONCLUSIONS: This research has used an innovative exploratory approach to address the expectations of GP patients and has implications for how doctors ought to manage their consultations. These results will be used to inform the development of a quantitative expectations questionnaire so as to develop a validated measure of expectations. Such an instrument has great potential to aid in health care research and practice.

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