Involving patients in detecting quality gaps in a fragmented healthcare system: development of a questionnaire for Patients' Experiences Across Health Care Sectors (PEACS)

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Abstract

Objective.

The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a generic questionnaire to evaluate experiences and reported outcomes in patients who receive treatment across a range of healthcare sectors.

Design.

Mixed-methods design including focus groups, pretests and field test.

Setting.

The patient questionnaire was developed in the context of a nationwide program in Germany aimed at quality improvements across the healthcare sectors.

Participants.

For the field test, 589 questionnaires were distributed to patients via 47 general practices.

Main Measurements.

Descriptive item analyzes non-responder analysis and factor analysis (PCA). Retest coefficients (r) calculated by correlation of sum scores of PCA factors. Quality gaps were assessed by the proportion of responders choosing a response category defined as indicating shortcomings in quality of care.

Results.

The conceptual phase showed good content validity. Four hundred and seventy-four patients who received a range of treatment across a range of sectors were included (response rate: 80.5%). Data analysis confirmed the construct, oriented to the patient care journey with a focus on transitions between healthcare sectors. Quality gaps were assessed for the topics ‘Indication’, including shared-decision-making (6 items, 24.5-62.9%) and ‘Discharge and Transition’ (10 items; 20.7-48.2%). Retest coefficients ranged from r = 0.671 until r = 0.855 and indicated good reliability. Low ratios of item-non-response (0.8-9.3%) confirmed a high acceptance by patients.

Conclusions.

The number of patients with complex healthcare needs is increasing. Initiatives to expand quality assurance across organizational borders and healthcare sectors are therefore urgently needed. A validated questionnaire (called PEACS 1.0) is available to measure patients' experiences across healthcare sectors with a focus on quality improvement.

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