Patient evaluations are an important part of monitoring primary healthcare reforms, but there is little comparative information available to guide evaluators in the choice of instruments or to determine their relevance for Canada.
To compare values and the psychometric performances of validated instruments thought to be most pertinent to the Canadian context for evaluating core attributes of primary healthcare.
Among validated instruments in the public domain, we selected six: the Primary Care Assessment Survey (PCAS); the Primary Care Assessment Tool – Short Form (PCAT-S); the Components of Primary Care Index (CPCI); the first version of the EUROPEP (EUROPEP-I); the Interpersonal Processes of Care Survey, version II (IPC-II); and part of the Veterans Affairs National Outpatient Customer Satisfaction Survey (VANOCSS). We mapped subscales to operational definitions of attributes. All were administered to a sample of adult service users balanced by English/French language (in Nova Scotia and Quebec, respectively), urban/rural residency, high/low education and overall care experience. The sample was recruited from previous survey respondents, newspaper advertisements and community posters. We used common factor analysis to compare our factor resolution for each instrument to that of the developers.
Our sample of 645 respondents was approximately balanced by design variables, but considerable effort was required to recruit low-education and poor-experience respondents. Subscale scores are statistically different by excellent, average and poor overall experience, but interpersonal communication and respectfulness scores were the most discriminating of overall experience. We found fewer factors than did the developers, but when constrained to the number of expected factors, our item loadings were largely similar to those found by developers. Subscale reliability was equivalent to or higher than that reported by developers.
These instruments perform similarly in the Canadian context to their original development context, and can be used with confidence. Interpersonal and respectfulness scores are most discriminating of excellent, average or poor overall experience and are crucial dimensions of patient evaluations.