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Quality time with physical therapists above fancy equipment, convenient parking

Patients place far greater priority on quality and quantity of time spent with their physical therapist than on sophisticated equipment, easy parking and convenience of location, researchers say.

In the current health care environment, economic factors are forcing health care providers throughout the medical profession to spend less time with their patients. Yet the amount and quality of time are the factors most closely linked by patients to customer satisfaction. In the medical field, just as in business, service is the key, according to a research team from Penn State, University of South Carolina, Franklin & Marshall College, and Lebanon Valley College.

According to the study, patients rate first in importance the amount of time the therapist spends with them, along with the therapist's listening and communication skills, and willingness to give clear explanations of treatment. The quality of patient-therapist interaction counts for much more than high-tech medical hardware, convenient location and office hours, and accessible parking.

Dr. Mary Beth Pinto, associate professor of marketing, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College; Dr. Paul F. Beattie, clinical associate professor in exercise science, University of South Carolina; Dr. Martha K. Nelson, associate professor in business administration, Franklin & Marshall College; and Dr. Roger M. Nelson, professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, Lebanon Valley College, presented their findings in the paper, "Patient Satisfaction with Outpatient Physical Therapy Care: Instrument Validation and Identification of Important Components," in a recent issue of the journal, Physical Therapy.

In an effort to determine what contributes to patient satisfaction with physical therapists, the four researchers conducted a two-phase survey. In the first or pilot phase, they administered a 22-item questionnaire to 191 persons receiving outpatient physical therapy under Worker's Compensation a
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Contact: Paul Blaum
pab15@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
26-Sep-2002


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