Increasing emphasis on patient-centered care and other recent developments should make patient expectations increasingly important in ophthalmology. Motivated by the pivotal role of patient expectations in quality-of-care assessments and by the limited knowledge about patients' expectations regarding eye care, we initiated a pilot study using focus groups to determine a relevant set of concerns that patients express as expectations.
A total of 6 focus groups were conducted with patients at Duke University Eye Center (Durham, NC). Focus groups ranged in size from 4 to 10 people. The average group size was 6.
Content analysis of transcripts from the 6 focus groups yielded 22 areas of expectations for eye care, which were classified into 5 categories: communication, interpersonal manner, physician's skill, logistics, and other. The 6 areas that appeared to be of greatest importance to focus group participants were the following: (1) honesty, (2) information about diagnosis and prognosis, (3) explanation in clear language, (4) ophthalmologist's experience and reputation, (5) empathy, and (6) listening and addressing concerns.
In general, ophthalmology patients in the focus groups emphasized expectations related to communication and interpersonal manner. In contrast to previous studies with primary care patients, however, ophthalmology patients expressed few expectations for technical interventions, such as medication prescriptions, physical examination, or diagnostic testing.