CAHPS Patient Experience Surveys and Guidance
What Are CAHPS Surveys?
CAHPS surveys ask patients to report on their experiences with a range of health care services at multiple levels of the delivery system. Some CAHPS surveys ask about patients' experiences with providers, such as medical, groups, practice sites, and surgical centers, or with care for specific health conditions. Other surveys ask enrollees about their experiences with health plans and related programs. Finally, several surveys ask about experiences with care delivered in facilities, including hospitals, dialysis centers, and nursing homes.
For each survey, you can download formatted survey instruments, guidance for administering them, and information on analyzing and using the results. Information in the guidance documents is based on the survey developers' extensive research into best practices in survey design and administration as well as analyses of data collected during the field testing of each instrument. AHRQ does not require the use of any surveys or the use of a specific methodology for sampling or survey administration.
Some CAHPS surveys are administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as part of their public reporting or reimbursement programs. For these surveys, please consult technical documentation from CMS for their survey administration requirements; information on where to find those requirements is provided for the relevant surveys.
Reasons To Choose a CAHPS Survey (1:05)
Surveys of Patient Experience
Patient Experience With Providers
- Clinician & Group
- Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) participating in Medicare initiatives (administered by CMS)
- CAHPS for Merit-based Incentive Payment System (administered by CMS)
- Hospice (administered by CMS)
- Home Health Care (administered by CMS)
- Surgical Care
- American Indian
Patient Experience With Condition-Specific Care
Enrollee Experience With Health Plans and Related Programs
- Health Plan (Commercial and Medicaid)
- Dental Plan
- Home and Community-Based Services (administered by CMS)
Patient Experience With Facility-Based Care
- Emergency Department
- In-Center Hemodialysis (administered by CMS)
- Nursing Home
- Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery (administered by CMS)
Users of CAHPS surveys have the option of incorporating additional questions, known as supplemental items, to customize their questionnaires.
Read about using CAHPS supplemental items.
Read about some of the CAHPS item sets on specific topics:
- Patient Narrative Elicitation Protocol
- Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Item Set
- Health Literacy Item Sets
- Health Information Technology Item Set
- Item Set for Children With Chronic Conditions
- Item Set for People With Mobility Impairments
Search for CAHPS supplemental items by survey and/or topic. Guidance on where to insert each item into the survey is provided.
Using the Surveys
Review the pages below for general information about using the CAHPS surveys:
- Analyzing CAHPS Survey Data
- Modifying and Naming CAHPS Surveys
- Translating Surveys and Other Materials
- Planning a CAHPS Survey Project
- Hiring a Survey Vendor
- Managing a Survey Project
Research on Survey Methods
As part of an ongoing effort to ensure the reliability and usefulness of the patient experience data generated by CAHPS surveys, researchers involved in the CAHPS program continually investigate and test the impact of different survey modes and formats.
Learn more about CAHPS research on survey design and administration aimed at furthering the measurement of patient experience.
Also see: Summaries of select research projects.