Consumer Perceptions of Health Care Services: Implications for the Academic Medical Community.
The factor analytic development of various measures of consumer perceptions regarding characteristics of doctors and health care services is described. Index scores meeting factor analytic and reliability criteria were used to study the importance of consumer perceptions in relation to behavioral outcomes. Numerous dimensions of consumer perceptions were identified and described, including beliefs about doctor conduct in terms of quality of care, and humaneness of health care delivery, as well as satisfaction with such enabling components as the continuity of care, availability and convenience of services, and various access mechanisms (cost, payment mechanisms, and ease of obtaining emergency care services). Measures of these perceptions were shown to be related to differences in several estimates of health services utilization. The use of index scores which have met empirical criteria is in contrast to the common practice of using individual questionnaire items as the unit of analysis in health care research. Findings are discussed in relation to program planning and evaluation in medical education, and suggestions for future research are noted. 17 pp. Ref.