Patient satisfaction has become an established indicator of the quality of health care yet, despite the abundance of measurement surveys reported in the literature, there are few theoretical underpinnings for this important concept. An analysis of the concept of patient satisfaction, specifically as it relates to contemporary nursing care, provides an excellent vantage point to more closely examine this key measure of health care quality. A review of pertinent literature is presented, followed by examination of the uses of the concept in professional literature as well as more general sources. Defining attributes cited throughout the literature are identified along with the concept's antecedents and consequences. Empirical referents, definitions, and measurements are also presented. The analysis concludes with re-examination of some of the assumptions underlying patient satisfaction literature in general, and thoughts regarding the significance of patient satisfaction with nursing care in particular. Suggestions for future inquiry are offered.
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