Quantifying Magnitude of Group-Level Differences in Patient Experiences with Health Care

Published in: Health Services Research [Epub February 2018]. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.12828

Posted on RAND.org on March 21, 2018

by Denise D. Quigley, Marc N. Elliott, Claude Messan Setodji, Ron D. Hays


Review approaches assessing magnitude of differences in patient experience scores between different providers.

Data Sources

1990–2016 literature.

Study Design

Systematic literature review.

Data Extraction Methods

Of 812 articles mentioning "CAHPS", "patient experience", "patient satisfaction", "important(ce)", "difference", or "significance", we identified 79 possible articles, yielding 35 for data abstraction. We included 22 articles measuring magnitude of differences in patient experiences.

Principal Findings

We identified three main ways of estimating magnitude of differences in patient experience scores: (1) by distribution/range of patient experience variable, (2) against external anchor, and (3) comparing a difference in patient experience on one covariate to differences in patient experience on other covariates.


We suggest routine estimation of magnitude in patient experience research. More work is needed documenting magnitude of differences between providers to make patient experience data more interpretable and usable.

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