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Is greater patient involvement associated with higher satisfaction? Experimental evidence from a vignette survey


Background Patient-centredness is an essential quality parameter of modern healthcare. Accordingly, involving patients in decisions about care is required by international laws and an increasing number of medical codes and standards. These directives are based on ethical principles of autonomy. Still, there is limited empirical knowledge about the influence of patient involvement on satisfaction with care.

Objective In a large national vignette survey, we aimed to empirically test healthcare users’ satisfaction with healthcare given different degrees of patient involvement, choices made and outcomes.

Methods A web-based cross-sectional survey distributed to a randomised sample of men in Denmark aged 45–70 years. Case vignettes used prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening for early detection of prostate cancer as a clinical model. Using a 5-point Likert scale, we measured respondents’ satisfaction with care in scenarios which differed in the amount of patient involvement (ranging from no involvement, through involvement with neutral or nudged information, to shared decision-making), the decision made (PSA test or no PSA test) and clinical outcomes (no cancer detected, detection of treatable cancer and detection of non-treatable cancer).

Results Participating healthcare users tended to be more satisfied with healthcare in scenarios illustrating greater levels of patient involvement. Participants were positive towards nudging in favour of the intervention but patient involvement through shared decision-making obtained the highest satisfaction ratings (Likert rating 3.81 without any involvement vs 4.07 for shared decision-making, p<0.001). Greater involvement also had an ameliorating effect on satisfaction if a non-treatable cancer was later diagnosed.

Conclusion Our study provides empirical support for the hypothesis that greater patient involvement in healthcare decision-making improves satisfaction with care irrespective of decisions made and clinical outcomes. Overall satisfaction with the care illustrated was highest when decisions were reached through shared decision-making.

  • decision making
  • decision support
  • clinical
  • health policy
  • patient satisfaction
  • healthcare quality improvement

Data availability statement

Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available.

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