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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


MIRA, José Joaquín; TIRADO, Sonia; PEREZ, Virtudes  and  VITALLER, Julián. Factors determining patients' choice of hospital. Gac Sanit [online]. 2004, vol.18, n.3, pp.205-212. ISSN 0213-9111.

Objective: To identify the best way to inform patients about centers and services so that they can make a responsible choice, and to identify which factors determine patients' decisions. Subjects and methods: Data on three illnesses (breast cancer, benign prostatic hypertrophy, and cataracts) in three fictitious hospitals were shown to patients. The data were presented to 1,259 subjects through four different means: a brochure including a table, a brochure with a bar graph, three brochures with tables, and three brochures with bar graphs. Data on each of the hospitals included: professional profiles, medical and surgical outcomes, side effects, patients' and relatives' satisfaction, and hospital complaints. The subjects completed a questionnaire evaluating the information received. Results: Most patients (88%) preferred to receive full information and to share decision-making with their physician. Sixty-four percent of the patients chose the hospital with the best medical or surgical outcomes. Patients preferred the data presented through a brochure with a table (p < 0.001). Three factors were identified with severe illness (satisfaction, outcomes and complaints) and two factors with non-severe illness (satisfaction and outcomes). Men paid more attention to medical and surgical outcomes (p < 0.001), relapses (p < 0.001), and side effects (p < 0.001). When performing comparisons, health professionals paid greater attention to medical and surgical outcomes than to patients' and relatives' satisfaction (t range between 0.40 and 0.90, p < 0.01). Conclusions: Differences were found in the need for information and in comprehension depending on the way information was presented and on the type of disease. Gender and health knowledge seem to be predictors of patients' information needs when choosing a hospital.

Keywords : Consumer decision making; Consumer information; Report cards.

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