Doctors’ engagements with patient experience surveys in primary and secondary care: a qualitative study

Conor Farrington*, Jenni Burt, Olga Boiko, John Campbell, Martin Roland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Patient experience surveys are increasingly important in the measurement of, and attempts to improve, health-care quality. To date, little research has focused upon doctors’ attitudes to surveys which give them personalized feedback. Aim: This paper explores doctors’ perceptions of patient experience surveys in primary and secondary care settings in order to deepen understandings of how doctors view the plausibility of such surveys. Design, setting and participants: We conducted a qualitative study with doctors in two regions of England, involving in-depth semi-structured interviews with doctors working in primary care (n = 21) and secondary care (n = 20) settings. The doctors in both settings had recently received individualized feedback from patient experience surveys. Findings: Doctors in both settings express strong personal commitments to incorporating patient feedback in quality improvement efforts. However, they also concurrently express strong negative views about the credibility of survey findings and patients’ motivations and competence in providing feedback. Thus, individual doctors demonstrate contradictory views regarding the plausibility of patient surveys, leading to complex, varied and on balance negative engagements with patient feedback. Discussion: Doctors’ contradictory views towards patient experience surveys are likely to limit the impact of such surveys in quality improvement initiatives in primary and secondary care. We highlight the need for ‘sensegiving’ initiatives (i.e. attempts to influence perceptions by communicating particular ideas, narratives and visions) to engage with doctors regarding the plausibility of patient experience surveys. Conclusion: This study highlights the importance of engaging with doctors’ views about patient experience surveys when developing quality improvement initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-394
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2016


  • patient experience surveys
  • primary care
  • quality improvement
  • secondary care


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