Background Inpatient satisfaction is a key element of hospital pay-for-performance programs. Communication and pain management are known to influence results, but additional factors may affect satisfaction scores. We tested the hypothesis that patient factors and outcome parameters not considered previously are clinically important drivers of inpatient satisfaction. Methods Medical records were reviewed for 1,340 surgical patients who returned nationally standardized inpatient satisfaction questionnaires. These patients were managed by 41 surgeons in seven specialties at two academic medical centers. Thirty-two parameters based on the patient, surgeon, outcomes, and survey were measured. Univariate and multivariable analyses were performed. Results Inpatients rated their overall experience favorably 75.7% of the time. Less-satisfied patients were more likely to be female, younger, less ill, taking outpatient narcotics, and admitted via the emergency department (all P <.02). Less-satisfied patients also were more likely to have unresected cancer (P <.001) or a postoperative complication (P <.001). The most relevant independent predictors of dissatisfaction in multivariable analyses were younger age, admission via the emergency department, preoperative narcotic use, lesser severity of illness, unresected cancer, and postoperative morbidity (all P <.01). Conclusion Several patient factors, expectations of patients with cancer, and postoperative complications are important and clinically relevant drivers of surgical inpatient satisfaction. Programs to manage expectations of cancer patient expectations and decrease postoperative morbidity should improve surgical inpatient satisfaction. Further efforts to risk-adjust patient satisfaction scores should be undertaken.
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