Development and testing of a framework for reporting quality data to consumers

Consumers face significant challenges in understanding and using quality information to inform their choices. Paramount among these challenges is being able to understand what is meant by quality of care. Almost all of the 14 communities in the Foundation's Aligning Forces for Quality initiative identified that consumers' lack of understanding of quality is a significant barrier to engaging them in the quality issue. Until we can effectively communicate with consumers what quality health care is, we are unlikely to engage them in the use of public reports. In this study, the grantee will develop and test a framework for explaining and presenting quality information to consumers. The project builds on theory and an earlier study and uses both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The goals of the project are to determine whether providing consumers a consistent framework for reporting quality in comparative reports would increase consumer comprehension, how they value the information, and their actual use of such information in choices. There will be two phases to this 18-month study. The first phase will include the conduct of focus groups and cognitive interviews to determine the key elements and the words to describe those elements, so that they are both comprehensible and salient to consumers. The kinds of measures consumers would like to see included within the framework will be explored. That is, phase one of the study will be used to develop and refine the framework. In the second phase, two versions of the framework refined in phase one will be utilized. In the experiment, consumers will be randomized into one of three conditions. Two will see quality information presented within a framework and another group will see the same information with no framework. How well the information is understood will be tested, how much it is valued, and the degree the quality information influences choices will be looked at. Participants (N=340), who are from diverse ethnic and racial groups and those with lower literacy and educational levels will be recruited to participate in both phases of the study. Deliverables will include a tested framework that can be used for both reporting physician quality and hospital quality. A list of quality indicators will be delivered that consumers would like included in reports, but are not currently in use. Part of the deliverables will also be to communicate the findings and recommendations to key audiences -- those who communicate with consumers about quality of care. To reach these audiences the grantee will publish its findings in journals, give presentations at industry meetings, and publish through newsletters, and websites. Recommendations will be made to the NQF, the AQA and the HQA to incorporate the framework in their guidelines for reporting to their members.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $199,966.00

Awarded on: 1/25/2008

Time frame: 2/15/2008 - 11/14/2009

Grant Number: 63840


University of Oregon Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management

1209 University of Oregon
Eugene, 97403-1209


Judith H. Hibbard
Project Director