Open Access Research article

Satisfaction of patients hospitalised in psychiatric hospitals: a randomised comparison of two psychiatric-specific and one generic satisfaction questionnaires

Isabelle Peytremann-Bridevaux12*, Frédy Scherer2, Laurence Peer2, Federico Cathieni2, Charles Bonsack3, Agatta Cléopas46, Véronique Kolly4, Thomas V Perneger45 and Bernard Burnand2

Author Affiliations

1 Health Services Research Unit, Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Lausanne, 17 Bugnon, CH-1005 Lausanne, Switzerland

2 Health Care Evaluation Unit, Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Lausanne, 17 Bugnon, CH-1005 Lausanne, Switzerland

3 Department of Psychiatry, CHUV, University of Lausanne, CH-1000 Lausanne, Switzerland

4 Quality of Care Service, University Hospitals of Geneva, Micheli-du-Crest 24, CH-1211 Geneva 14, Switzerland

5 Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Geneva, University Medical Centre, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland

6 Deceased

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BMC Health Services Research 2006, 6:108  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-6-108

Published: 28 August 2006



While there is interest in measuring the satisfaction of patients discharged from psychiatric hospitals, it might be important to determine whether surveys of psychiatric patients should employ generic or psychiatry-specific instruments. The aim of this study was to compare two psychiatric-specific and one generic questionnaires assessing patients' satisfaction after a hospitalisation in a psychiatric hospital.


We randomised adult patients discharged from two Swiss psychiatric university hospitals between April and September 2004, to receive one of three instruments: the Saphora-Psy questionnaire, the Perceptions of Care survey questionnaire or the Picker Institute questionnaire for acute care hospitals. In addition to the comparison of response rates, completion time, mean number of missing items and mean ceiling effect, we targeted our comparison on patients and asked them to answer ten evaluation questions about the questionnaire they had just completed.


728 out of 1550 eligible patients (47%) participated in the study. Across questionnaires, response rates were similar (Saphora-Psy: 48.5%, Perceptions of Care: 49.9%, Picker: 43.4%; P = 0.08), average completion time was lowest for the Perceptions of Care questionnaire (minutes: Saphora-Psy: 17.7, Perceptions of Care: 13.7, Picker: 17.5; P = 0.005), the Saphora-Psy questionnaire had the largest mean proportion of missing responses (Saphora-Psy: 7.1%, Perceptions of Care: 2.8%, Picker: 4.0%; P < 0.001) and the Perceptions of Care questionnaire showed the highest ceiling effect (Saphora-Psy: 17.1%, Perceptions of Care: 41.9%, Picker: 36.3%; P < 0.001). There were no differences in the patients' evaluation of the questionnaires.


Despite differences in the intended target population, content, lay-out and length of questionnaires, none appeared to be obviously better based on our comparison. All three presented advantages and drawbacks and could be used for the satisfaction evaluation of psychiatric inpatients. However, if comparison across medical services or hospitals is desired, using a generic questionnaire might be advantageous.