Summarizes two studies designed to determine whether or not conclusions about consumer satisfaction are different when questionnaires are designed to measure attitudes toward characteristics of one's own health care services as opposed to attitudes toward care received by people in general. Pairs of questionnaire items measuring attitude toward ten health services characteristics were constructed so as to vary only with regard to item referent, i.e., care received by the respondent versus care received by people in general. Consistent differences (more favorable ratings for items having individual referent) were observed across concepts (services characteristics) and samples as a function of difference in item referent. No differences in factor content, stability, or validity were observed as a function of difference in item referent. A number of plausible explanations for these results are discussed and some implications for the design and interpretation of health care surveys are noted.
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