Weak linkage (at best) between satisfaction and health status

Last week, Kaiser Health News linked to two articles regarding a University of California, Davis study that indicates patient satisfaction and health status are not correlated (see http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Daily-Reports/2012/February/14/health-care-satisfaction.aspx for more details).  In fact, the study suggests that patient satisfaction and health status may be inversely related with satisfied individuals in worse health.

DSS has been collecting information on individuals’ health status and their satisfaction with their personal doctor and their health insurance company for the past 9 months as part of the DSS Health Care Engagement Index (HCEI)™.  The HCEI data shows a very weak, but positive correlation between health status and these two satisfaction measures.

  • 0.133  Spearman correlation between self-reported health status and overall satisfaction with health insurance carrier (p = 0.001 in Q4 2011)
  • 0.037  Spearman correlation between self-reported health status and overall satisfaction with personal doctor (p = 0.357 in Q4 2011)

However, the weak correlation indicates that their are many satisfied individuals who are in poor health.  Amongst those who rate their satisfaction with their health insurance carrier as a “10” on the 0 to 10 point scale, 7% say their overall health is “poor” and 17% say it is “fair” while only 10% say it is “excellent.”

While desired positive correlations between satisfaction and health status are weak at best, negative correlations were found between overall satisfaction with their health plan and some health care usage measures.  Individuals who are more satisfied with their health insurance company have significantly more doctor visits (1.1 versus 3.1 visits per year) and significantly more overnight hospital stays (0.00 versus 0.59 visits per year).

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