Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys ask consumers and patients to report on and evaluate their experiences with health care. These surveys cover topics that are important to consumers and focus on aspects of quality that consumers are best qualified to assess, such as the communication skills of providers and ease of access to health care services. CAHPS originally stood for the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study, but as the products have evolved beyond health plans, the name has evolved as well to capture the full range of surveys. The acronym "CAHPS" is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

All CAHPS surveys are in the public domain, which means that anyone can download and use these surveys to assess experiences with care. Users of CAHPS survey results include patients and consumers, quality monitors and regulators, provider organizations, health plans, community collaboratives, and public and private purchasers of health care. These individuals and organizations use the survey results to inform their decisions and to improve the quality of health care services.

Select this program brief for more information about CAHPS. (CAHPS: Assessing Health Care Quality From the Patient's Perspective; CAHPS: Assessing Health Care Quality From the Patient's Perspective (PDF) [ PDF file - 369.59 KB])

Read about Using the CAHPS Name.

The CAHPS Program

The CAHPS program is funded and overseen by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which works closely with a consortium of public and private research organizations. AHRQ and its grantees and contractors develop and maintain the CAHPS surveys; they do not administer any of the surveys to health care consumers.

Principles Underlying CAHPS Surveys

Over the past 15 years, the CAHPS Consortium has established a set of principles to guide the development of CAHPS surveys and related tools. These principles include identifying and supporting the consumer's or patient's information needs, conducting thorough scientific testing, ensuring comparability of data, maintaining an open development process, and keeping products in the public domain.

The CAHPS User Network

In order to support survey sponsors and users, AHRQ created the CAHPS User Network. The User Network is responsible for making the survey products available, providing technical assistance and education, and facilitating networking among users.

The User Network also manages the CAHPS Database, which is a national repository for data from the CAHPS Health Plan Surveys and the Clinician & Group Surveys. Learn more about the CAHPS Database.


Numerous articles discuss the development of the CAHPS surveys and their use as a tool for assessing patients' experiences with care. You can search the bibliography by keyword, topic, author, and year.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) offers answers to a wide range of questions about the CAHPS program as well as the specific survey instruments. You can search the FAQs by topic.

CAHPS Glossary

While the CAHPS program makes a great effort to design surveys that use consumer-friendly language, it inevitably generated a jargon of its own. Check out the glossary for an explanation of any unfamiliar terms.

Using the CAHPS Name

Use the full name "Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS)" to refer to the program only. In the text of written documents (journal articles, press coverage, etc.), spell out the name the first time that it appears, followed by CAHPS in parentheses: "Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) program." Please indicate that this is a program of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Contact CAHPS

Call or write us with questions or comments about the CAHPS surveys or the CAHPS Database.

Page last reviewed June 2016
Internet Citation: About CAHPS. Content last reviewed June 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/cahps/about-cahps/index.html