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1.  Understanding and using comparative healthcare information; the effect of the amount of information and consumer characteristics and skills 
Background
Consumers are increasingly exposed to comparative healthcare information (information about the quality of different healthcare providers). Partly because of its complexity, the use of this information has been limited. The objective of this study was to examine how the amount of presented information influences the comprehension and use of comparative healthcare information when important consumer characteristics and skills are taken into account.
Methods
In this randomized controlled experiment, comparative information on total hip or knee surgery was used as a test case. An online survey was distributed among 800 members of the NIVEL Insurants Panel and 76 hip- or knee surgery patients. Participants were assigned to one of four subgroups, who were shown 3, 7, 11 or 15 quality aspects of three hospitals. We conducted Kruskall-Wallis tests, Chi-square tests and hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses to examine relationships between the amount of information and consumer characteristics and skills (literacy, numeracy, active choice behaviour) on one hand, and outcome measures related to effectively using information (comprehension, perceived usefulness of information, hospital choice, ease of making a choice) on the other hand.
Results
414 people (47%) participated. Regression analysis showed that the amount of information slightly influenced the comprehension and the perceived usefulness of comparative healthcare information. It did not affect consumers’ hospital choice and ease of making this choice. Consumer characteristics (especially age) and skills (especially literacy) were the most important factors affecting the comprehension of information and the ease of making a hospital choice. For the perceived usefulness of comparative information, active choice behaviour was the most influencing factor.
Conclusion
The effects of the amount of information were not unambiguous. It remains unclear what the ideal amount of quality information to be presented would be. Reducing the amount of information will probably not automatically result in more effective use of comparative healthcare information by consumers. More important, consumer characteristics and skills appeared to be more influential factors contributing to information comprehension and use. Consequently, we would suggest that more emphasis on improving consumers’ skills is needed to enhance the use of comparative healthcare information.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-101
PMCID: PMC3483238  PMID: 22958295
Healthcare consumers; Comparative healthcare information; Amount of information; Sociodemographic characteristics; Literacy; Numeracy
2.  Different patient subgroup, different ranking? Which quality indicators do patients find important when choosing a hospital for hip- or knee arthroplasty? 
Background
Patients are increasingly expected to become active, critical consumers in healthcare. They can use comparative healthcare information presented on websites to make informed choices for healthcare providers. However, the use of this information has been limited so far. An obstacle can be that the information is not perceived as relevant by patients. Presenting only the most important quality indicators might improve the usefulness of this information. The aim of this study was to explore which quality indicators different subgroups of patients find important when choosing a hospital for total hip arthroplasty (THA) or total knee arthroplasty (TKA).
Methods
In this explorative, cross-sectional study, questionnaires were distributed to 265 patients who underwent or had to undergo THA/TKA. Participants were asked to rank the importance of three types of quality indicators: patient experience indicators, clinical performance indicators, and indicators about hospital services. We used random effects regression analyses to assess the relative importance of the indicators in different subgroups of patients.
Results
110 patients (response rate 41.5%) who underwent or had to undergo THA/TKA participated. Conduct of doctors, the presence of procedures to prevent adverse effects of thrombosis and information about the specialist area of orthopaedists were the most important patient experience indicator, clinical performance indicator and indicator about hospital services, respectively. We found a few differences between patient subgroups in the importance attached to the quality indicators.
Conclusions
This study provides a first insight into which quality indicators patients find important when choosing a hospital for THA/TKA, and shows that subgroups of patients differ in the value they attach to these indicators. More extended research is needed to establish the indicators that should at least be presented in succinct overviews of comparative healthcare information for patients choosing a hospital for THA/TKA.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-299
PMCID: PMC3268112  PMID: 22050686

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