Arguments that call into question the validity of information provided by consumers about quality of care have one thing in common: they presume that the information reflects something other than attributes of medical care. The authors' review of the various arguments leads them to conclude that consumers' ratings of interpersonal aspects of care provide useful and valid information on quality assessment and assurance programs. As for the technical process of care, reports and ratings from consumers will likely prove a valuable supplement to data from more traditional sources such as medical records.
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