Methods Used to Streamline the CAHPS Hospital Survey

Published in: Health Services Research, v. 40, no. 6, pt. 2, Dec. 2005, p. 2057-2077

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2005

by San Keller, A. James O'Malley, Ron D. Hays, Rebecca A. Matthew, Alan M. Zaslavsky, Kimberly A. Hepner, Paul Cleary

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OBJECTIVE: To identify a parsimonious subset of reliable, valid, and consumer-salient items from 33 questions asking for patient reports about hospital care quality. DATA SOURCE: CAHPS Hospital Survey pilot data were collected during the summer of 2003 using mail and telephone from 19,720 patients who had been treated in 132 hospitals in three states and discharged from November 2002 to January 2003. METHODS: Standard psychometric methods were used to assess the reliability (internal consistency reliability and hospital-level reliability) and construct validity (exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, strength of relationship to overall rating of hospital) of the 33 report items. The best subset of items from among the 33 was selected based on their statistical properties in conjunction with the importance assigned to each item by participants in 14 focus groups. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) indicated that a subset of 16 questions proposed to measure seven aspects of hospital care (communication with nurses, communication with doctors, responsiveness to patient needs, physical environment, pain control, communication about medication, and discharge information) demonstrated excellent fit to the data. Scales in each of these areas had acceptable levels of reliability to discriminate among hospitals and internal consistency reliability estimates comparable with previously developed CAHPS instruments. CONCLUSION: Although half the length of the original, the shorter CAHPS hospital survey demonstrates promising measurement properties, identifies variations in care among hospitals, and deals with aspects of the hospital stay that are important to patients' evaluations of care quality.

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