Drafting patient satisfaction survey questions

Make sure your questions ask exactly what you want answered, for ambiguous questions yield confusing answers. Don’t, for example, ask, “How would you like to hear more about our services?” Some patients will answer “yes” or “no” while others will say “in the mail.”

Avoid double-barreled questions like, “Did you get your prescription filled and did you take it?” There’s no way for the patient to give a simple yes or no answer.

Qualitative answers like “excellent,” “good” and “poor” are fine for a general view of patients’ attitudes. But to get a more refined response, use a quantifiable rating scale attaching numbers to performance (i.e., rating from one to ten). Have an even number of response choices so an ambivalent responder can’t pick an answer exactly in the middle.

Most surveys generally use a combination of both open-ended and closed-ended questions. Mix questions unless you have a precise reason to do otherwise.

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