Research Article

Public opinion and purchasing.

BMJ 1992; 304 doi: (Published 14 March 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;304:680
  1. A. Richardson,
  2. M. Charny,
  3. S. Hanmer-Lloyd
  1. Bath Health Authority.


    OBJECTIVES--To explore the use of a questionnaire to obtain representative public opinions on health services. To examine residents' priorities, knowledge, and views on the public's role in decision making. DESIGN--Self administered postal questionnaire. POPULATION--Random sample of 1500 residents in Bath District Health Authority, drawn from electoral registers. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Levels of agreement or disagreement with statements provided and degree of importance given to services and aspects of services. RESULTS--70 questionnaires were returned unopened. Completed questionnaires were returned by 704 (49.2%) of the 1430 remaining residents. Kidney dialysis was thought very important by 559 (87%) respondents and family planning by only 58 (9%). Public priorities did not seem to reflect value for money. Clear information about treatment was rated as very important by 530 (76%) and comfortable waiting areas by 70 (10%). 372 (53%) of respondents said that they would definitely travel to a hospital outside the district to reduce their wait for surgery. Knowledge of the services provided by the authority and the money available to it was poor. 446 (65%) respondents wanted greater public involvement in decision making. CONCLUSIONS--A postal questionnaire can provide useful information about public priorities and perceptions about the services provided. More information about health services and their costs and benefits should be given to the public to assist greater public participation in decision making.