Raising the voice of dissatisfaction : a qualitative study of the Queensland acute health care consumer and the experience of complaining

Howard, Matylda Iwanna (2011) Raising the voice of dissatisfaction : a qualitative study of the Queensland acute health care consumer and the experience of complaining. Professional Doctorate thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Research into complaints handling in the health care system has predominately focused on examining the processes that underpin the organisational systems. An understanding of the cognitive decisions made by patients that influence whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with the care they are receiving has had limited attention thus far. This study explored the lived experiences of Queensland acute care patients who complained about some aspect of their inpatient stay.

A purposive sample of sixteen participants was recruited and interviewed about their experience of making a complaint. The qualitative data gathered through the interview process was subjected to an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach, guided by the philosophical influences of Heidegger (1889-1976). As part of the interpretive endeavour of this study, Lazarus’ cognitive emotive model with situational challenge was drawn on to provide a contextual understanding of the emotions experienced by the study participants. Analysis of the research data, aided by Leximancer™ software, revealed a series of relational themes that supported the interpretative data analysis process undertaken. The superordinate thematic statements that emerged from the narratives via the hermeneutic process were ineffective communication, standards of care were not consistent, being treated with disrespect, information on how to complain was not clear, and perceptions of negligence.

This study’s goal was to provide health services with information about complaints handling that can help them develop service improvements. The study patients articulated the need for health care system reform; they want to be listened to, to be acknowledged, to be believed, for people to take ownership if they had made a mistake, for mistakes not to occur again, and to receive an apology. For these initiatives to be fully realised, the paradigm shift must go beyond regurgitating complaints data metrics in percentages per patient contact, towards a concerted effort to evaluate what the qualitative complaints data is really saying. An opportunity to identify a more positive and proactive approach in encouraging our patients to complain when they are dissatisfied has the potential to influence improvements.

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ID Code: 46834
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Supervisor: Fleming, Marylou & Parker, Elizabeth
Keywords: Australia, cognitive appraisal, consumer satisfaction, complaints, dissatisfaction, emotions, health services, Heidegger, hermeneutic, Leximancer™, patients, phenomenology, Queensland, satisfaction
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 03 Nov 2011 04:55
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2011 04:55

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