The reliability of survey assessments of characteristics of medical clinics

Peter V. Marsden*, Bruce E. Landon, Ira B. Wilson, Keith Mcinnes, Lisa R. Hirschhorn, Lin Ding, Paul D. Cleary

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective. To assess the reliability of survey measures of organizational characteristics based on reports of single and multiple informants. Data Source. Survey of 330 informants in 91 medical clinics providing care to HIV-infected persons under Title III of the Ryan White CARE Act. Study Design. Cross-sectional survey. Data Collection Methods. Surveys of clinicians and medical directors measured the implementation of quality improvement initiatives, priorities assigned to aspects of HIV care, barriers to providing high-quality HIV care, and quality improvement activities. Reliability of measures was assessed using generalizability coefficients. Components of variance and clinician-director differences were estimated using hierarchical regression models with survey items and informants nested within organizations. Principal Findings. There is substantial item- and informant-related variability in clinic assessments that results in modest or low clinic-level reliability for many measures. Directors occasionally gave more optimistic assessments of clinics than did clinicians. Conclusions. For most measures studied, obtaining adequate reliability requires multiple informants. Using multiple-item scales or multiple informants can improve the psychometric performance of measures of organizational characteristics. Studies of such characteristics should report the organizational level reliability of the measures used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-283
Number of pages19
JournalHealth Services Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • HIV care
  • Health care organizations
  • Reliability
  • Survey research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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