State of Today's Health Care: Doctors and Consumers Give Mixed Ratings in Surveys

Online surveys of the public and physicians for RWJ strategic performance assessment

New York-based survey research firm Harris Interactive (formerly known as Louis Harris & Associates) and FACCT, a nonprofit consumer health research organization based in Portland, Ore., fielded and analyzed two nationwide surveys in 2000—one of consumers and the other of physicians.

The goal of the surveys was to provide baseline information about health and health care practices in domains related to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) goals and objectives.

The surveys are called the National Strategic Indicators Surveys.

Key Findings

  • For the consumer survey, conducted online, more than 50,000 respondents provided data. Researchers reported the following findings:

    • The quality of health care reported is generally fair to poor.
    • Access to health care was generally good (with scores in the mid-70 percent range); but people without health insurance rate their access to medical and dental care about 20 percent lower than those with insurance.
    • Care for chronic illness remains uneven and often inadequate.
    • Preventive services are not provided uniformly.

    A survey mailed to a sample of 8,000 U.S. physicians yielded 1,211 responses. Among the key findings reported by Harris Interactive:

    • Many physicians expressed difficulty offering their patients advice and other supportive services, primarily due to lack of reimbursement or insurance coverage.
    • The majority of physicians report that they have a patient education program in place to help improve patient compliance and treatment; a third report that they have no such program.
    • The majority of physicians have some, little or no experience treating terminally ill patients.

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