• satisfaction with care;
  • physician characteristics;
  • patient characteristics

BACKGROUND: The growth of managed care has raised a number of concerns about patient and physician satisfaction. An association between physicians' professional satisfaction and the satisfaction of their patients could suggest new types of organizational interventions to improve the satisfaction of both.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the relation between the satisfaction of general internists and their patients.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional surveys of patients and physicians.

SETTING: Eleven academically affiliated general internal medicine practices in the greater-Boston area.

PARTICIPANTS: A random sample of English-speaking and Spanish-speaking patients (n = 2,620) with at least one visit to their physician (n = 166) during the preceding year.

MEASUREMENTS: Patients' overall satisfaction with their health care, and their satisfaction with their most recent physician visit.

MAIN RESULTS: After adjustment, the patients of physicians who rated themselves to be very or extremely satisfied with their work had higher scores for overall satisfaction with their health care (regression coefficient 2.10; 95% confidence interval 0.73–3.48), and for satisfaction with their most recent physician visit (regression coefficient 1.23; 95% confidence interval 0.26–2.21). In addition, younger patients, those with better overall health status, and those cared for by a physician who worked part-time were significantly more likely to report better satisfaction with both measures. Minority patients and those with managed care insurance also reported lower overall satisfaction.

CONCLUSIONS: The patients of physicians who have higher professional satisfaction may themselves be more satisfied with their care. Further research will need to consider factors that may mediate the relation between patient and physician satisfaction.