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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Patient satisfaction with healthcare provided by family doctors: primary dimensions and an attempt at typology

Ludmila Marcinowicz, Slawomir Chlabicz* and Ryszard Grebowski

Author Affiliations

Department of Family Medicine and Community Nursing, Medical University of Bialystok, 15 054 Bialystok, Mieszka I 4 B, Poland

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BMC Health Services Research 2009, 9:63  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-63

Published: 16 April 2009



Patient satisfaction is a complex and difficult concept to measure, thus precluding the use of exclusively quantitative methods for its description. The purpose of this survey was firstly to identify particular healthcare dimensions that determine a patient's satisfaction or dissatisfaction; and secondly to attempt to typologise the patients' responses based on their evaluation of healthcare.


Using a qualitative research design, thirty-six in-depth interviews with patients of family physicians were conducted: four patients from each of 9 family practices in different regions of Poland were interviewed. The main outcome measure was factors associated with patient satisfaction/dissatisfaction.


In their evaluations of their contacts with family doctors, the patients cited mostly issues concerning interpersonal relationships with the doctor. Nearly 40% of the statements referred to this aspect of healthcare, with nearly equal proportions of positive and negative comments. The second most frequent category of responses concerned contextual factors (21%) that related to conditions of medical service, with two-thirds of the evaluations being negative. Statements concerning the doctor's competencies (12.9%) and personal qualities (10.5%) were less common.


To improve the quality of healthcare, family doctors should take special care to ensure the quality of their interactions with patients.