In Their Own Words: Exploring Patient Reflections of Physician Communication Using Press Ganey Surveys

1University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
2University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

Meeting: Hospital Medicine 2014, March 24-27, Las Vegas, Nev.

Abstract number: 11


Surveys such as the Press Ganey Survey and Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) provide quantitative performance data regarding patient perceptions of and satisfaction with care. Hospitals use this data to evaluate the patient experience during hospitalization. These surveys also record free text comments, however these are rarely analyzed, thus potentially missing larger themes and context. We analysed three years of comments from a combined Press Ganey/HCAHPS survey for specific, actionable themes regarding patient perceptions of communication with physicians on an inpatient Medicine Service


All patients admitted to our institution between July 2010 and June 2013 were mailed surveys that combined Press Ganey/HCAHPS questions within one week of discharge. Free text comments relating to physician communication were extracted for our Medicine Service and qualitatively analysed using content analysis. Two investigators independently analysed the data. Initially comments were divided into positive, negative, neutral or mixed positive and negative groups. Responses were then organized into themes and the frequency of each theme recorded.


There were 1511 survey responses over the three years from Medicine Service patients. 285 (18.9%) of patients made comments specifically related to physician communication. Of the 285 comments, 164 were positive, 72 negative, 15 neutral and 34 a mixture of positive and negative. Table 1 describes positive and negative themes, frequencies and associated quotations.

Table 1: Summary of themes and quotes

Positive Example of patient quotes No. of comments
Physicians consistently communicating treatment and care processes “They explained what was happening every step of the way” 23
Physicians showing empathy and concern “She expressed genuine care, and went above and beyond in every way possible” 23
Physicians demonstrating professionalism and respect ”They cared about my every concern and treated my family & I with the utmost care & respect” 52
Difficulties recognizing and keeping track of multiple team members ”I was there 5 days; I had a different doctor every day, never any one of them to be seen again. NO continuity” 20
Perceptions of miscommunication between the multi‐disciplinary team “Communication between the teams was unclear at times, negatively impacting my care” 10
Conflicting information from physicians “First doctor said I probably wouldn’t go home. Second doctor said I could go home. The third (attending) doctor said I should probably stay another night. It was a little confusing and pretty disheartening” 6
Lack of direct physician contact and communication “I saw the attending maybe twice in my days spent there” 25
Physicians not communicating treatment plan and care processes ”I felt I did not get enough information about what was going on” 14


Patient comments from already existing survey data can provide an additional level of detail, illuminating patient perceptions of care and the specific drivers of numeric performance. Such patient comments are available to many institutions and can be used to focus and drive specific improvements in how physicians communicate with their patients.

To cite this abstract:

Tran G, Harrison J, Sliwka D. In Their Own Words: Exploring Patient Reflections of Physician Communication Using Press Ganey Surveys. Abstract published at Hospital Medicine 2014, March 24-27, Las Vegas, Nev. Abstract 11. Journal of Hospital Medicine. 2014; 9 (suppl 2). Accessed April 7, 2020.

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