Proposed Change to Time Frame in CAHPS Surveys

AHRQ’s CAHPS Consortium is proposing to change the time frame for survey items in ambulatory CAHPS surveys from 12 months to 6 months. This means that each item would start with “In the last 6 months” rather than “In the last 12 months.”

The CAHPS Consortium is currently seeking comments about these proposed changes from users and other stakeholders. If the change is adopted, the CAHPS Consortium is considering releasing updated surveys in early 2014.

Background

In the last several years, there has been a steady increase in the use of the CAHPS Clinician & Group Surveys (CG-CAHPS) to assess patients’ experiences with ambulatory care. At the same time, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a longtime partner in the CAHPS program, has been expanding its use of CAHPS surveys, including the CG-CAHPS Surveys.

Users of the CG-CAHPS Surveys have indicated a need for the different versions to be better aligned so that their organizations can meet multiple requirements without having to administer different survey instruments. To address this issue, the CAHPS Consortium has been working with CMS and other stakeholders to reduce variations among survey versions.

Time Reference Differences Among Survey Versions

One of the key differences among ambulatory CAHPS surveys is that CMS uses a 6-month time frame for items instead of a 12-month time frame. This difference first arose with the original CAHPS Health Plan Survey and has been maintained across other surveys that CMS has adopted.

Proposed Change to Time Frame

AHRQ’s CAHPS Consortium is proposing to change the timeframe for survey items in ambulatory CAHPS surveys from 12 months to 6 months. This means that each item would start with “In the last 6 months” rather than “In the last 12 months.” The change would affect:

  • All versions of the CG-CAHPS Surveys:
    • 12-Month Survey
    • Patient-Centered Medical Home Survey
    • Items in the Visit Survey that use the 12-month time frame
  • The commercial version of the CAHPS Health Plan Surveys (the Medicaid version already uses the 6-month time frame).

Making this change will bring about a greater alignment between these survey versions and the new versions being used by CMS, and reduce the burden of survey administration for users that face multiple surveying requirements.

The CAHPS Consortium also is proposing a corresponding change in sampling guidelines. Sampling frames for surveys administered at a comparable time would be changed from patients with visits in the previous 12 months to patients with visits in the previous 6 months. Guidelines for continuous sampling are currently being evaluated and will be added to the survey administration guidance.

If you have any questions about this proposed change or would like to provide feedback to the CAHPS Consortium, please contact the CAHPS User Network at cahps1@westat.com or 1-800-492-9261.

Page last reviewed March 2016
Page originally created April 2015
Internet Citation: Proposed Change to Time Frame in CAHPS Surveys. Content last reviewed March 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/cahps/news-and-events/news/newsitem2.html