Contents of a CAHPS Report

One of the first steps in producing a CAHPS report is to decide what information to include. This page offers a brief overview of the kinds of information you may want to share with your audience.

To learn more about the topics to cover in a quality report, go to Explain and Motivate in AHRQ’s TalkingQuality Web site.

Steps To Take During the Planning Stage

While this page suggests several elements you may want to consider, the specific contents should be driven by the needs of your audiences.

  • Identify the information needs of your audience before you begin to collect data. For example, focusing on what information the reports should present can help you decide whether to add supplemental items to your CAHPS survey.
  • Solicit content suggestions from all members of your project team so that you have time to gather any non-CAHPS information you may want to include, such as clinical quality measures or other information about providers. However, before deciding whether to address different issues in your report, carefully review other materials your audience may receive to see what information they provide and to ensure that what is said in these other materials is consistent with the CAHPS report.

Standard Elements of a CAHPS Report

The Survey Results. The primary content of your report will be the results of your CAHPS survey. Incorporating these data into easy-to-read charts is a relatively straightforward procedure. Examples of reports on patients’ experiences with care are available in AHRQ’s TalkingQuality Web site.

Information About the Health Care Organizations. Your report should emphasize that CAHPS survey results are intended for use in conjunction with other important information about the health care organizations that consumers may use to make decisions. For example, consumers choosing medical groups may also want to consider:

  • Location
  • The background and characteristics of doctors included in the group
  • Whether doctors are accepting new patients
  • Whether the group is part of their health plan’s network

Much of this information may be available through other channels, such as health plan Web sites. However, you may want to provide some or all of this information with the survey results or tell consumers and patients where they can find this information and how to use it.

Basic Background Information on the Survey. To establish the credibility of the survey results, your report should briefly explain what the survey is and how it was conducted (i.e., the methodology). Including this kind of information can help educate consumers about the importance of the methods used to conduct a survey. It can also reinforce the idea that the respondents to the survey were "people like you."

Optional Elements

Other Measures of Quality. You may want to provide your audience with other kinds of performance information, such as measures of clinical quality or safety.

Educational Information About CAHPS Measures. It is helpful to explain that CAHPS survey results reflect quality from the consumer's point of view, as distinguished from technical quality measures, which reflect the clinical perspective. Specifically, the CAHPS questionnaires focus on topics for which consumers are the best or only judges of quality, such as whether they are treated with courtesy and respect and whether they get explanations from their providers that are easy to understand.

Explaining this concept of quality puts the survey results into a broader context and helps prevent misunderstandings by consumers. This is also information that consumers are not likely to receive anywhere else.

Related Resources

Maximizing Consumer Understanding of Public Comparative Quality Reports: Effective Use of Explanatory Information from AHRQ (archived)

Lessons Learned in Public Reporting: Deciding What to Report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Page last reviewed March 2016
Page originally created October 2012
Internet Citation: Contents of a CAHPS Report. Content last reviewed March 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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