There are good reasons for health care stakeholders to value patient satisfaction scores. Satisfaction data provide important information about the perceived quality of a program or service from the patient’s point of view. Patient satisfaction with services and with perceived progress is a strong predictor of patients’ recovery quality.
Similarly, patients who feel comfortable with their treatment and the treatment team are more likely to fully engage in the therapeutic process. Engagement is also a well-recognized correlate of treatment effectiveness and, therefore, long-term results. Patient satisfaction data also support patient-centered care programs and provide integral information for program quality managers.
Decades of research solidify the value of satisfaction data—making these numbers a valuable measuring tool. As a leader in the mental health and addiction treatment industry, Foundations Recovery Network (FRN) regularly gathers satisfaction and outcomes data from patients.
This paper discusses patient satisfaction data in general and offers data collected at FRN’s residential facilities: The Canyon at Peace Park, Michael’s House and La Paloma.
Evaluating Patient Satisfaction Surveys
Data collected from patient satisfaction surveys pave the way for improvement.
Patient satisfaction scores are important measures of facility and staff performance, but their meaning is often complicated.
In a study of patient outcomes at publically funded addiction treatment centers, the study’s authors reiterated the importance of measuring patient satisfaction to determine the quality of healthcare services (Carlson & Gabriel, 2001).
Many key points are learned from a satisfaction survey, according to Carlson and Gabriel (2001):
- All stakeholders, including insurers, treatment providers and patients, benefit from learning about patient opinions to improve service delivery
- Patient surveys offer information about services provided and outcomes
- Opinions about services offer valuable information about improvements needed
- Opinions about outcomes may not be as clinically valid, but they are good indicators of how recovery is progressing.
The satisfaction scale used and developed by Foundations Recovery Network collects data on all aspects of the participants’ perceptions of the treatment experience. The thirty-six-item scale was developed through an extensive process that combined items from existing instruments, accreditation standards and participant feedback. Items tapping satisfaction with clinical services were initially based on a review of items found in the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire (CSQ-18) (Attkisson, 1982). Items on satisfaction related to facilities and support services were added to correspond to standards identified by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Additional items were included through extensive formal and informal feedback from patients and staff that identified areas of possible satisfaction not covered by the initial piloted instrument. Individuals record their satisfaction on a five-point scale of “poor” to “excellent.” There are two items measuring global satisfaction. One addresses “overall satisfaction” and the second asks the patient if he or she would recommend treatment at that particular center to others. The instrument is currently under study by the research team at FRN, and publication is expected in 2014.
Patient Satisfaction and Long-Term Recovery
Patients who highly value their caregivers and the care they receive have better outcomes.
The graph below illustrates the research findings of Miller and colleagues’ (2006) investigation of the factors identified through patient feedback and their impact on retention and outcomes for patients. FRN utilizes this same validated research technique in assessing and then utilizing feedback from our patient surveys to improve patient experiences and therefore improve outcomes.
Many other health fields also study how patient satisfaction rates relate to outcomes. In many cases, results indicate that satisfaction with treatment improves patient outcomes. A study of patients receiving methadone treatment found that those who were more satisfied with their counselors and programs had a lower incidence of drug use and legal problems at three months. In addition, patients who were more satisfied with their programs stayed in treatment for at least 12 months (Kelly, O’Grady, Brown, Mitchell, & Schwartz, 2010).
High satisfaction rates apply to all aspects of a patient’s health and well-being and across all disease states. In all levels of health care, patient satisfaction with quality services is an independent predictor of survival (Gupta, Markman, Rodeghier, & Lis, 2012).
Patient Satisfaction and Dual Diagnosis
When treating substance use disorders, it’s important to address a person’s mental health as well as substance use. One study of dually diagnosed patients showed that those who viewed the treatment more positively had better long-term outcomes. Since dually diagnosed patients have more challenging psychiatric symptoms, it is important to address their satisfaction with services to gain greater participation in treatment (Boden & Moos, 2009).
FRN’s treatment centers are specialized to treat dually diagnosed patients. The company incorporates an integrated treatment model that addresses a person’s addiction along with any mental health conditions he or she may have. Numerous studies show that an integrated treatment approach is more effective and produces better long-term outcomes than addiction treatment alone. As a further benefit to patient outcomes, integrated treatment gives FRN staff members the ability to address a patient’s mental health and physical needs at the same time. (Drake, O’Neal, & Wallach, 2008).
FRN’s Dual Diagnosis treatment programs are nationally recognized. The company’s integrated treatment model puts it in the top 5% of addiction treatment programs, according to the Dual Diagnosis Capability in Addiction Treatment (DDCAT) index assessment. Also, recent DDCAT audits for The Canyon and Michael’s House residential and outpatient programs scored within the 97% range, demonstrating excellence in co-occurring disorders treatment.
Patient Satisfaction and Treatment Participation Rates
Patients who are highly engaged in treatment have better outcomes.
When patients are actively engaged in their treatment, they experience improvement in many areas at once. In a study of patient engagement, research showed patients who were highly engaged in care improved significantly more in all domains than patients who did not engage (Harris, Humphreys, Bowe, Finney, & Tiet, 2010). Additionally, patients who are more satisfied with their improvement are more compliant with treatment recommendations (Hirsch et al, 2005) and therefore more likely to continue to improve.
The ability to build relationships is a key component of long-term recovery. Research indicates that the relationship formed between the therapist and the patient, also called “therapeutic alliance,” is a strong predictor of outcomes (Barber, et al, 2001) and a strong predictor of treatment effectiveness (Allen, 2013). A strong therapeutic alliance is characterized by common goals, collaborative purpose, trust and a sense of safety. Relationships, including the therapeutic alliance formed during treatment, account for as much as 30% of treatment results (Miller et al, 2006). Patients who form strong therapeutic alliances are more likely to succeed in long-term recovery.
In addition, as patients become more satisfied with their progress, their treatment compliance improves. A study of pain clinic patients found better compliance with treatment recommendations when patients were satisfied, especially when patients were satisfied with their providers (Hirsch, et al., 2005).
Our Findings: Foundations Recovery Network Satisfaction Scores
Satisfaction scores remain high at FRN’s residential facilities. In the “Overall Experience and Treatment” category, the average score across all residential centers was 4.3 on a scale of 1-5, where 4 is “very good” and 5 is “excellent.”
The following graph represents two types of overall satisfaction measured at Foundations Recovery Network facilities:
As part of its commitment to provide excellence, FRN also questions patients about their overall experience and their willingness to recommend the program to others. High recommendation rates indicate a strong level of confidence in a service. Patients who respond “yes” to the question, “Would you recommend us?” provide positive word-of-mouth marketing for the company. They are the main drivers of growth for a business (Reichheld, 2003).
FRN facilities consistently report that more than 70% of alumni would recommend the treatment center they attended to others. High recommendation scores also indicate a company’s ability to meet customer needs. Data from the recommendation question along with responses to other evidence-based surveys offer valuable insights into growing and improving FRN’s ability to meet and exceed patient needs as well as informing treatment protocols.
Patient satisfaction scores are a key factor when evaluating the quality of health care services. While researchers disagree about the strength of the correlation between high satisfaction and good outcomes, there is a large body of research that supports the importance of patient satisfaction and long-term recovery.
FRN enjoys a high level of patient satisfaction and sees good outcomes for its patients. The company is committed to scientific research and is an active participant in the mental health and substance use medical community. In order to take its research to the next level, FRN has submitted its patient satisfaction results to outside validity tests and reliability confirmation. The company’s goal is to develop and validate a patient satisfaction survey instrument specifically designed for use in substance abuse and mental health treatment facilities.
Foundations Recovery Network is committed to research that improves treatment for all addicted individuals. If you would like to speak with an admissions coordinator today or if you would like to learn more about our research methods and programs, please call us directly at 615-490-9376.
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Kelly, S. M., O’Grady, K. E., Brown, B. S., Mitchell, S. G., & Schwartz, R. P. (2010). The role of patient satisfaction in methadone treatment. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse , 36 (3), 150-154.
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on May 3, 2013
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