Comparison of mailed vs. on-site emergency department patient satisfaction surveys

Lalena M. Yarris, Rongwei Fu, Rebecca Duby, Brooke Frakes, Heather Brooks, Robert L. Norton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background Patient satisfaction is one measure of the quality of emergency department (ED) care. The impact of survey delivery method on patient satisfaction in the ED remains unknown.

Objective We hypothesized that self-administered surveys in the ED would yield a higher response rate and different satisfaction compared to mailed surveys.

Methods This observational study was conducted during a 2-month period in an urban, tertiary-care, university-based ED. Eligible patients were randomized to either complete an on-site satisfaction survey in the ED at discharge or to complete an identical survey mailed 1 week after discharge. The primary outcome was the reported overall satisfaction of on-site vs. mail-out surveys. Satisfaction was measured using Likert-type scales and dichotomized outcomes were compared using a χ2 test and logistic regression.

Results Two hundred and forty-two of 457 eligible patients randomized to the on-site group and 275 of 1152 patients in the mail-out group completed a survey (53% vs. 24%; p < 0.001). Compared with the mail-out group, on-site subjects reported higher overall satisfaction (79.6% vs. 68.9%; p = 0.006), significantly higher satisfaction with their nurses' (p < 0.001) and doctors' listening skills (p < 0.001), and were more likely to recommend this ED to friends or family (71.4%, vs. 56.6%; p = 0.001).

Conclusions We found that patients who completed satisfaction surveys in the ED reported higher satisfaction than those who received mailed surveys. In addition, measuring patient satisfaction by self-administered on-site surveys at the time of discharge from the ED yields a significantly higher response rate than measuring satisfaction using mailed surveys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)702-709
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • emergency department
  • emergency medicine
  • patient satisfaction
  • satisfaction scores

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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