The purpose of this paper is to describe a research carried out to determine whether patients' judgments concerning quality of hospital care depend on when their judgments are assessed. To obtain patients' judgments about quality of care the author measured their satisfaction, by using traditional Likert-type scales, as well as their expectations over time, using the multiattribute utility approach.
The current research had a within-subject design and was diagnosis-specific. People diagnosed with myocardial infarction were selected from nine hospitals. Through self-administered questionnaires, data were collected from one hundred sixty-four patients at two points of time: one month and five months after discharge.
Results showed that, at least for myocardial infarction, patients' satisfaction and expectations are not necessarily stable over time. The time at which the assessment is administered during the patient's recovery process is crucial.