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Comparison of Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems patient satisfaction scores for specialty hospitals and general medical hospitals: Confounding effect of survey response rate



Specialty hospitals are a subset of acute‐care hospitals that provide a narrower set of services than general medical hospitals (GMHs), predominantly in areas such as cardiac disease and surgery. Although specialty hospitals also advertise high patient satisfaction, this has not been examined using national data. We examined the differences in Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) satisfaction scores in a national sample.


HCAHPS results were obtained for July 2007 to June 2010. Specialty hospitals were identified using the American Hospital Association's Annual Survey, the Physician Hospital Association's directory, a name search of hospitals on the HCAHPS database, contact with experts, and online searches. Multiple linear regression was performed to examine the relationship between overall satisfaction and hospital specialty status, survey response rate, and subdomains of patient satisfaction.


We identified 188 specialty hospitals and 4368 GMHs. Specialty hospitals were disproportionately located in states that do not require Certification Of Need (47.9%), and had a higher overall patient satisfaction score (86.6 vs 67.8%, P < 0.0001) and survey response rates (49.6% vs 32.2%, P < 0.0001). After adjusting for response rate, the difference in overall patient satisfaction decreased by >50% (from 18.5 to 8.7) but remained significantly higher (P < 0.0001). Similar results were obtained for patient satisfaction subdomains.


Specialty hospitals have a significantly higher overall HCAHPS patient satisfaction score than GMHs, although more than half of this difference disappears when adjusted for survey response rate. Comparisons among healthcare organizations should take into account survey response rates. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2014;9:590–593. © 2014 Society of Hospital Medicine

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