Demographic-related variables impact subjective experiences of patient wait times and perceived attention afforded in surgical outpatient clinic encounters

Zachary Sanford, Adam S. Weltz, H. Reza Zahiri, Adrian Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Patient satisfaction remains a key component in successful delivery of high-quality healthcare. In this study, we attempted to better understand how patient demographics might influence perception of clinic wait times and determine factors that may positively influence perception of a clinic experience. Methods: A prospective study was conducted assessing patient satisfaction during outpatient surgical clinics in minimally invasive, breast, plastic/reconstructive, and orthopaedic surgery between May and September 2017. Patient demographics, subjective and objective assessments of wait time and physician encounter, and qualitative assessments of physician and patient interaction were collected. Results: 150 patients were enrolled with median age between 45 and 54 years old. Patients perceived mean wait times of 22.5 min and contact with physician as 12.3 min. Objective measures of wait and physician-contact times were 30.8 min and 10.7 min. These trends persisted despite surgical specialty and new versus returning patient class. Widowed patients perceived receiving less attention by doctors (p<.05), retirees believed they spent less time with their physician (p<.05), and associate's degree holders as highest education status had greater differences in perceived-versus-actual contact time with their doctor (p<.05). Clinic patients reported high satisfaction scores (>96%) quantifying physician eye-contact (99.3%), attention (99.8%), clarity of clinical communication (98.7%), interest in answering questions (99.2%), and reasonability (98.2%) highly. Patients described their physicians as excellent (99.4%) and were likely to refer their provider to others (99.9%). Conclusion: Our findings suggest qualitative factors of patient encounters including eye contact, attention, communication, interest, and subjective perceptions of time bear more weight in the final assessment of patient satisfaction with care than quantitative factors such as actual wait time and duration of time with provider. This is irrespective of differences in perceived wait and contact times between different groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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