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Comparisons of the performance of health care providers are increasingly being used. Despite one key audience being clinicians, there has been little research on the format and content of such comparisons. Our aim was to explore clinicians' comprehension and preferences of format and content in displaying provider outcomes using comparisons of patient reported outcome measures data.A qualitative study, based on seven meetings involving 107 clinicians (mostly consultant and junior doctors, and nurses), revealed their views on nine formats and five aspects of content.Key findings were the desire for data in more than one format, explicit display of comparative performance (rank order) and the need for explanations (e.g. of unfamiliar formats and of statistical uncertainty).Several themes were identified that shaped clinicians' views. Results were sufficiently clear to permit recommendations for the form and content of standard reports for the National Health Service.