Tools for Research: Consumer Assessment of Health Plans (CAHPS®)

Information about the CAHPS® tool for research.

What is CAHPS®?

The CAHPS® project has developed a comprehensive set of easy-to-use kit of surveys and reporting tools for assessing the experience of care for children and adults in health care plans.

Who should use CAHPS® for research?

CAHPS® can be used by:

  • Researchers on staff at health plans to define child health research agendas or identify trends over time within a health plan.
  • Academic researchers who want to learn what improves health care for children.
  • Researchers for purchasing groups or independent organizations who want to make comparisons among plans.

Example: Recent AHRQ-supported research using CAHPS® data showed how ratings of various components of care correlated with overall satisfaction with doctors and health plans. Researchers also examined variation in ratings among health plans for children's care. (Homer, CJ. The Consumer Assessment of Health Plan Study (CAHPS®) Survey of Children's Health Care. Journal of Quality Improvement. 1999 Jul).

What about CAHPS® is specific to children?

The most recent version of the CAHPS® questionnaires (CAHPS® 2.0) contains two components specific to children: the Child Core Survey (CCS) and the Child Supplemental questions. They can be used to assess the care children receive in any type of health care plan, including managed care and fee-for-service settings. This type of data makes plans more accountable to the needs of children, and it can help guide specific improvement initiatives for child health.

What kinds of questions does the CAHPS® ask related to children?

  • The CCS asks questions on specific plan features with detailed information such as access to care and quality of physician interaction with both parent and child.
  • Child health supplemental questions include questions for children with chronic conditions or disabilities and children who are Medicaid recipients.
  • Additional CAHPS® questionnaires are being designed for children with special health are needs and for adolescent self-reporting.

What is the National CAHPS® Benchmarking Database (NCBD)?

The National CAHPS® Benchmarking Database (NCBD) is a repository for CAHPS® results. Users enter their CAHPS® data into the NCBD and, in return, can access the data of other CAHPS® users. THE NCBD will facilitate comparisons of CAHPS® results among various types of CAHPS® survey sponsors, including Medicaid agencies, public and private employers, and individual health plans. These comparisons are intended to provide both purchasers and health plans with benchmarking information useful for evaluating and improving performance as measured by the CAHPS® survey. The NCBD also offers an important source of primary data for conducting specialized research that will enable improvements in future survey design and a better understanding of health plan and enrollee characteristics that influence performance. The NCBD will include no data identifying individual respondents. The confidentiality of individual respondent information will be maintained at all times.

The NCBD is administered by the Quality Measurement Advisory Service (QMAS) in partnership with the Picker Institute and Westat. For more information about NCBD, E-mail cahps1@westat.com.

Where can I get additional resources?

For more detailed information on CAHPS®:

The CAHPS® 2.0 Kit is available from the the AHRQ Clearinghouse: Call toll free 800-358-9295 and ask for Pulication number 99-0039.

Select for the online version of the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans (CAHPS®) Overview. A print copy of the overview (AHCPR Pub. No. 97-R013) is available through the AHRQ Clearinghouse: Call toll-free 800-358-9295 in the United States.

Select for CAHPS® 2.0 Questionnaires online. If you wish to use the CAHPS® 2.0 Questionnaires or other products, you are strongly urged to contact the Survey User Network (call toll-free 800-492-9261 in the United States), register as a CAHPS® user, and inquire about technical assistance.

National CAHPS® Benchmarking Database can be accessed at CAHPS® Survey Users Network.

Current as of February 2000
Internet Citation: Tools for Research: Consumer Assessment of Health Plans (CAHPS®). February 2000. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/factsheets/tools/cahps/index.html