Open Access Open Badges Research article

Patient satisfaction with HIV and TB treatment in a public programme in rural KwaZulu-Natal: evidence from patient-exit interviews

Natsayi Chimbindi12*, Till Bärnighausen123 and Marie-Louise Newell24

Author Affiliations

1 Wellcome Trust Africa Centre for Health and Population Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

2 School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

3 Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA

4 Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:32  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-32

Published: 23 January 2014



Patient satisfaction is a determinant of treatment uptake, adherence and retention, and an important health systems outcome. Queues, health worker-patient contact time, staff attitudes, and facility cleanliness may affect patient satisfaction. We quantified dimensions of patient satisfaction among HIV and TB patients in a rural sub-district of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and identified underlying satisfaction factors that explained the data.


We conducted patient-exit interviews with 300 HIV and 300 TB patients who were randomly selected using a two-stage cluster random sampling approach with primary sampling units (primary healthcare clinics) selected with probability-proportional-to-size sampling. We performed factor analysis to investigate underlying patient satisfaction factors. We compared the satisfaction with HIV and TB services and examined the relationships between patient satisfaction and patients’ socio-demographic characteristics in multivariable regression.


Almost all patients (95% HIV, 97% TB) reported to be globally satisfied with the healthcare services received on the day of the interview. However, patient satisfaction with specific concrete aspects of the health services was substantially lower: 52% of HIV and 40% of TB patients agreed that some staff did not treat patients with sufficient respect (p = 0.02 for difference between the two patient groups); 65% of HIV and 40% of TB patients agreed that health worker queues were too long (p < 0.001). Based on factor analysis, we identified five factors underlying the HIV data and the TB data (availability, accommodation, acceptability and communication for HIV and TB patients; health worker preference for HIV patients only; and global satisfaction for TB patients only). The level of satisfaction did not vary significantly with patients’ socio-demographic characteristics.


In this rural area, HIV and TB patients’ evaluations of specific aspects of health services delivery revealed substantial dissatisfaction hidden in the global assessments of satisfaction. A wide range of patient satisfaction variables could be reduced to a few underlying factors that align broadly with concepts previously identified in the literature as affecting access to healthcare. Increases in health systems resources for HIV and TB, but also improvements in facility maintenance, staff attitudes and communication, are likely to substantially improve HIV and TB patients’ satisfaction with the care they receive in public-sector treatment programmes in rural communities in South Africa.

Patient satisfaction; Factor analysis; HIV; TB; Health systems