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The social psychology of making and responding to hospital complaints: an account model of complaint processes

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Drawing on a study of 399 hospital complaints entering the National Health Service formal complaints procedure, this paper analyzes the interaction between complainant and hospital as a social episode in which the hospital is called to account for violation of the complainant's normative expectations and makes its response. The non-instrumental and uncrystallized character of many complaints is emphasized. Letters of complaint and replies from the hospital were readily analyzed in terms of the proposed model, providing insights into the social psychology of complaining, the goals of complainants, and the elements of successful apologies. Factors correlating with complainants' satisfaction further support the model and confirm the importance of a socially appropriate response to complaints. The implications of the study are discussed both in relation to hospital complaints and in the context of the literature on disputing more broadly.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/26602/

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