The purpose of this study was to develop and administer surveys that assess patient and family caregiver experiences with care transitions and examine the psychometric properties of the surveys. The surveys were designed to ask about 1) the transitional care services that matter most to patients and their caregivers and 2) care outcomes, including the overall quality of transitional care they received, patient self-reported health, and caregiver effort/stress.


Survey items were developed based on a review of the literature, existing surveys, focus groups, site visits, stakeholder and expert input, and patient and caregiver cognitive interviews. We administered mail surveys with telephone follow up to patients recently discharged from 43 U.S. hospitals. Patients identified the caregivers who helped them during their hospital stay (Time 1 caregiver) and when they were home (Time 2 caregiver). Time 1 and Time 2 caregivers were surveyed by telephone only. The psychometric properties of the survey items and outcome composite measures were examined for each of the three surveys. Items that performed poorly across multiple analyses, including those with low variability and/or a high missing data, were dropped except when they were conceptually important.


The analysis datasets included responses from 9282 patients, 1245 Time 1 caregivers and 1749 Time 2 caregivers. The construct validity of the three proposed outcome composite measures—Overall Quality of Transitional Care (patient and caregiver surveys), Patient Overall Health (patient survey) and Caregiver Effort/Stress (caregiver surveys) —was supported by acceptable exploratory factor analysis results and acceptable internal consistency reliability. Site-level reliability was acceptable for the two patient outcome composite measures, but was low for Caregiver Effort/Stress (< 0.70). In all surveys, the Overall Quality of Transitional Care outcome composite measure was significantly correlated with other outcome composite measures and most of the single-item measures.


Overall, the final patient and caregiver surveys are psychometrically sound and can be used by health systems, hospitals, and researchers to assess the quality of care transitions and related outcomes. Results from these surveys can be used to improve care transitions, focusing on what matters most to patients and their family caregivers.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in BMC Health Services Research, v. 21, article no. 785.

© The Author(s) 2021

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

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Funding Information

Research reported in this manuscript was funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Award (TC-1403-14049). The statements in this manuscript are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), its Board of Governors or Methodology Committee.

Related Content

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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