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Nebraska DHHS surveys consumers on quality of care

April 4, 2012
by Nick Zubko, Associate Editor
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Nebraska's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is currently conducting its annual survey of consumers, which is used to study the effectiveness of mental health and substance abuse services throughout the state.

Between February and April, over 6,800 individuals (both adults and children) who received treatment in 2011 are being asked by the department's Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) to participate in the survey to provide "stories of personal experiences with community providers and suggestions for improving services." 

Participants are selected from a scientifically random sample. According to Heather Wood, the division’s quality improvement and data performance administrator, the sampling method is an improvement over the old process (convenience sampling), in which providers simply administered the survey in person. 

“Now we draw a weighted, stratified sample from our data system to determine which consumers will receive the survey,” she explained. “Those selected have received services within the last year, so that they have a recent recollection of their treatment.” 

Since 2008, Nebraska consumers have been contacted directly through a phone survey or asked to complete a paper-based survey. They are given the chance to decide ahead of time which method they prefer. 

According to Wood, the core of the survey utilizes 28 questions from the Mental Health Statistics Improvement Program (MSIP) consumer satisfaction survey. Youth consumers are also surveyed, but the actual forms are filled out by a parent or legal guardian. 

Questions cover a wide range of topics, including demographics, health status, improved functioning, and quality of life. In total, the adult survey consists of 57 questions, while the youth survey contain 50. And while many come from the MSIP survey, the DBH has also added several of its own.

A few samples of questions they added to the survey are listed below. Respondents are given five choices between “strongly agree” and “strongly disagree.”

  • The services you received at name of treatment center has improved your quality of life.
  • Staff treated me with respect and dignity.
  • My treatment (or service) goals were based on my strengths and needs.

Results of the annual consumer survey will begin to be shared in August with stakeholder groups. A final copy for public release is likely to be available in early 2013.

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Nick Zubko

Associate Editor

Nick Zubko

@BH_Zubko

www.behavioral.net

Nick Zubko is associate editor of Behavioral Healthcare.