Rationale, aims and objectives Patient satisfaction is receiving increased attention in the evaluation of health care quality. However, qualitative methods have seldom been used to study patient satisfaction. The purpose of this study was to explore how satisfaction is understood from the perspective of patients receiving care from family doctors.
Method We used a qualitative approach consisting of in-depth interviews with 36 patients attending clinics in Poland. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed, and content analysis performed.
Results There was no single definition of satisfaction among study participants; however, some core characteristics of satisfaction emerged. These characteristics were: (1) good doctor–patient interaction; (2) health improvement or resolution of health problems; (3) fulfilment of prior expectations; (4) availability of health care; (5) combination of multiple characteristics; and (6) absence of dissatisfaction.
Conclusion Because patients have differing concepts of satisfaction with health care provided by family doctors, quality assessments should focus on components of satisfaction whereas questions about satisfaction itself should be avoided.