Comparing the outcome of two different procedures to handle complaints from a patient's perspective

R.D. Friele, S. Kruikemeier, J.J.D.J.M. Rademakers, R. Coppen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Aim of the study
To assess differences in patient satisfaction between a complaints procedure designed towards the needs of complainants (referred to here as the ‘Committee’) and a procedure that primarily aims at improving the professional quality of health care (referred to here as the ‘Board’).
Patients' experiences and satisfaction were assessed through a questionnaire completed by 80 patients complaining to a Board and 335 to a complaints Committee. Only complainants with a complaint that was judged to be founded or partially founded were included.
Only half of the complainants reported being satisfied with the procedure they underwent. After controlling for differences in respondent characteristics, satisfaction with the Board was higher than with the Committee. The level of variance explained, however, was low (3%). The majority of respondents reported favourably on procedural aspects, for example, the impartiality of the procedure, and empathy demonstrated for their situation. Only a minority of complainants in both procedures believed that changes would be made as a result of their complaint.
The absence, in the eyes of most complainants, of tangible results of filing a complaint in both rather formal procedures may serve as an explanation for both the low level of overall satisfaction and the fact that the procedure which was developed specifically for patients did not perform better. To resolve the problem of low satisfaction with complaints handling, procedures should be developed that offer a basic degree of procedural safety. But this procedural safety should not stand in the way of what complainants really want: changes for the better.
Keywords: Patient satisfaction, Complaints handling, Patients rights, Evaluation,
Quality of health care, Patients perspective, Disclosure
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-295
JournalJournal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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