To review the existing literature (1980–2003) on survey instruments used to collect data on patients' perceptions of hospital care.
Eight literature databases were searched (PubMED, MEDLINE Pro, MEDSCAPE, MEDLINEplus, MDX Health, CINAHL, ERIC, and JSTOR). We undertook 51 searches with each of the eight databases, for a total of 408 searches. The abstracts for each of the identified publications were examined to determine their applicability for review.
For each instrument used to collect information on patient perceptions of hospital care we provide descriptive information, instrument content, implementation characteristics, and psychometric performance characteristics.
The number of institutional settings and patients used in evaluating patient perceptions of hospital care varied greatly. The majority of survey instruments were administered by mail. Response rates varied widely from very low to relatively high. Most studies provided limited information on the psychometric properties of the instruments.
Our review reveals a diversity of survey instruments used in assessing patient perceptions of hospital care. We conclude that it would be beneficial to use a standardized survey instrument, along with standardization of the sampling, administration protocol, and mode of administration.