Purpose Although there is little in the pediatric literature regarding the factors that affect parent satisfaction with clinic visits, time spent with the physician has been shown to be closely associated with parent satisfaction. In addition, studies in adults have shown a strong association between waiting time and eventual patient satisfaction. Anecdotally, it seems as though long waiting times would have an even greater impact on the satisfaction of parents bringing a young child to the doctor. We hypothesized that parents would be more dissatisfied with long waiting times and that increased time spent with the physician would lessen this dissatisfaction.
Methods Over a four-month period a convenience sample of parents from our pediatric resident continuity clinics were asked to complete a survey regarding their waiting time in the waiting room, waiting time in the examination room, time spent with physician, and satisfaction with the visit. Specifically, parents were asked to rate the statement, “I was satisfied with my child's clinic visit today,” on a 10-point scale (1 = strongly disagree, 10 = strongly agree). Long waiting times were defined as > 15 min to match established clinic goals for promptness.
Results Data were collected from 365 parents of which 40 (11%) experienced wait times > 15 minutes. Satisfaction was significantly influenced by long waiting times in the waiting room. Those with wait times < 15 minutes had average satisfaction score of 9.83 ± 0.67 vs those with wait times > 15 minutes who reported scores 8.80 ± 2.25, p = < .0001. Time spent in the examination room did not seem to influence satisfaction. Time spent with the physician had a significant effect independent of wait times. Those parents that spent > 15 minutes with a physician rated satisfaction 9.83 ± 0.64 vs those < 15 minutes, 9.60 ± 1.29, p = .0032. Among patients with long wait times, time spent with the physician showed an impressive impact on satisfaction. Parents of patients with long wait times rated their overall clinic satisfaction as 9.4 ± 1.19 if the physician spent > 15 minutes with them compared to 8.2 ± 2.88, p = .0008, with < 15 minutes of physician contact.
Conclusion Both waiting time and time spent with the physician are strongly associated with overall parent satisfaction with a pediatric visit. Although long wait times in the waiting room decrease satisfaction with pediatric clinic visits, this influence can be significantly lessened if the physician spends more time with the patient.
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