The impact of anonymity on psychiatric patients’ ratings of satisfaction with the initial evaluation

BACKGROUND: Preserving anonymity is believed to yield more hon­est appraisals of patient satisfaction, although the data addressing this issue are sparse. The goal of this study from the Rhode Island Methods to Improve Diagnostic Assessment and Services project was to determine the impact of anonymity on patient satisfaction ratings after the initial evaluation.

METHODS: The Clinically Useful Patient Satisfaction Scale (CUPSS) is a brief, self-administered questionnaire assessing patients’ satisfaction with the initial evaluation. Every 2 to 3 months, we switched from anon­ymous to non-anonymous completion of the CUPSS. More than 1,300 patients completed the scale (729 anonymous, 603 non-anonymous).

RESULTS: Anonymity was not associated with scores on the scale. In both the anonymous and non-anonymous conditions, the CUPSS had high internal consistency, all item-scale correlations were significant, and all items were significantly correlated with global satisfaction ratings. There was sufficient variability in satisfaction ratings to detect differences among clinicians.

CONCLUSIONS: Anonymity was not associated with patient satisfaction ratings, did not affect the psychometric properties of the scale, and did not compromise the scale’s ability to discriminate among clinicians. That is, anonymity did not affect the reliability or validity of satisfaction ratings.

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