Read About the Surgical Care Survey

The Surgical Care Survey expands on the CAHPS Clinician & Group Survey, which focuses on primary and specialty care, by incorporating domains that are relevant to surgical care, such as informed consent, anesthesia care, and post-operative follow-up. The National Quality Forum endorsed this survey in June 2012.

The survey is unique among CAHPS surveys in that it assesses patients' experiences with surgical care in both the inpatient and outpatient settings by asking respondents about their care:

  • Before surgery (12 items).
  • During surgery (11 items, including 8 about anesthesiology).
  • After surgery (9 items).

Other questions asks patients to report on their experiences with office staff during visits and to rate the surgeon.

Purpose of the Survey

The main purpose of the CAHPS Surgical Care Survey is to address the need to assess and improve the experiences of surgical patients. Like other CAHPS surveys, this questionnaire focuses on aspects of surgical quality that are important to patients and for which patients are the best source of information. The survey results are expected to be useful to everyone with a need for information on the quality of surgeons and surgical care, including patients, practice groups, health plans, insurers, and specialty boards.

  • Patients can use the information to help make better and more informed choices about their surgical care.
  • Practices, health plans, and insurers can use the survey results for quality improvement initiatives and incentives. Learn more in the CAHPS Ambulatory Care Improvement Guide.
  • Surgeons may be able to use the survey for Maintenance of Certification.

Quality Measures from the Surgical Care Survey

The Surgical Care Survey produces the following measures of patient experience:

  • Information to help you prepare for surgery
  • How well surgeon communicates with patients before surgery
  • Surgeon's attentiveness on day of surgery
  • Information to help you recover from surgery
  • How well surgeon communicates with patients after surgery
  • Helpful, courteous, and respectful staff at surgeon's office
  • Patients' rating of the surgeon

Review measures from the Surgical Care Survey.

To learn about selecting scores to report and displaying the results to consumers, refer to How To Report Results of the CAHPS Clinician & Group Survey ( PDF [ PDF file - 970.48 KB] ).

Brief History

This survey was sponsored by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the Surgical Quality Alliance (SQA). In 2009, ACS submitted an application to the CAHPS Consortium requesting official adoption of the Surgical Care Survey as a CAHPS instrument. The CAHPS Project Officers and Principal Investigators reviewed the submission and voted to adopt the survey as an official CAHPS product in early 2010.

In December 2011, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released the 2.0 version of the Surgical Care Survey. This update keeps the Surgical Care Survey consistent with the Clinician & Group Survey, which was updated in October 2011. Because the changes that led to the 2.0 designation do not represent a significant digression from the 1.0 version of this survey, the shift from 1.0 to 2.0 does not affect the ability of survey users to assess trends in performance. Changes include the following—

  • Rewording of the shared decisionmaking items
  • Minor rewording of a few items to improve consistency within and across CAHPS surveys
  • The addition of a mental health status item following the overall health status item

Learn about the development of the Surgical Care Survey.

Page last reviewed June 2016
Page originally created June 2012
Internet Citation: Read About the Surgical Care Survey. Content last reviewed June 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.