Open Access Research article

Quality of physical therapy from a patient’s perspective; factor analysis on web-based survey data revealed three dimensions on patient experiences with physical therapy

Marijn Scholte*, Hilly Calsbeek, Maria WG Nijhuis-van der Sanden and Jozé Braspenning

Author Affiliations

Scientific Institute for Quality of Healthcare, Radboud university medical centre, Geert Grooteplein 21, 6525 EZ Nijmegen, The Netherlands

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:266  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-266

Published: 18 June 2014



Assessing quality of care from the patient’s perspective has changed from patient satisfaction to the more general term patient experience, as satisfaction measures turned out to be less discriminative due to high scores. Literature describes four to ten dimensions of patient experience, tailored to specific conditions or types of care. Given the administrative burden on patients, less dimensions and items could increase feasibility. Ten dimensions of patient experiences with physical therapy (PT) were proposed in the Netherlands in a consensus-based process with patients, physical therapists, health insurers, and policy makers. The aim of this paper is to detect the number of dimensions from data of a field study using factor analysis at item level.


A web-based survey yielded data of 2,221 patients from 52 PT practices on 41 items. Principal component factor analysis at item level was used to assess the proposed distinction between the ten dimensions.


Factor analysis revealed two dimensions: ‘personal interaction’ and ‘practice organisation’. The dimension ‘patient reported outcome’ was artificially established. The three dimensions ‘personal interaction’ (14 items) (medianpractice level = 91.1; IQR = 2.4), ‘practice organisation’ (9 items) (medianpractice level = 88.9; IQR = 6.0) and ‘outcome’ (3 items) (medianpractice level = 80.6; IQR = 19.5) reduced the number of dimensions from ten to three and the number of items by more than a third.


Factor analysis revealed three dimensions and achieved an item reduction of more than a third. It is a relevant step in the development process of a quality measurement tool to reduce respondent burden, increase clarity, and promote feasibility.

Patient experiences; Factor analysis; Quality of care; Physical therapy