OBJECTIVES - Market forces make it essential to know what policies and actions influence patients' reports of hospital services. No studies have examined the role of patient characteristics, labor quality and staff characteristics, nonlabor resources, managerial practices, and employee attitudes within a single investigation.
METHODS - The authors collected, simultaneously, data about labor, management and service processes, nonlabor resources, and employee attitudes on 117 nonintensive medical-surgical inpatient units in 17 hospitals selected from a pool of 69 institutions within a metropolitan area by a stratified random sample. Of the 2,595 patients who agreed to participate, 2,051 (79%) completed telephone interviews regarding their experiences with physical care, education, and pain management services within 26 days of hospital discharge.
RESULTS - A significant amount of variation in patients' service reports was explained (adjusted R2 = 0.41 physical care, 0.35 pain management, 0.44 education). Although the predictors varied for each service report, patient characteristics, especially those related to personal resources, had a large explanatory role. A labor assignment pattern that could explain why earlier studies found labor quality and staff characteristics to have only a weak role in the prediction of patients' service reports was noted.
CONCLUSIONS - The results related to patient characteristics may indicate opportunities to improve care by confronting service design strategies that erroneously rely on a homogeneous patient population. Measurement challenges identified by this study must be addressed to determine the role of labor quantity and staff characteristics.