American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

About the S-CAHPS Survey

The Surgical Care Survey expands on the current Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Clinician & Group Survey, which focuses on primary and specialty care, by incorporating domains that are relevant to surgical care including informed consent, anesthesia care, and postoperative follow-up. The National Quality Forum endorsed this survey in June 2012 and re-endorsed the survey in June 2018.

The survey is unique among CAHPS surveys because it assesses patients' experiences with surgical care in both inpatient and outpatient settings by asking respondents about the care they received:

  • Before surgery (12 items)
  • During surgery (11 items, including 8 about anesthesiology)
  • After surgery (9 items)

Other questions ask patients to rate their surgeons and report on experience with office staff during their visits.

No supplemental items were developed for this survey.

The Surgical Care Survey is available for download. Please note that complete instructions for administering this survey are not available. However, users of this survey can adapt instructions that were developed for the Clinician & Group Surveys.

For assistance in adding supplemental items to your survey or adapting the instructions from the Clinician & Group Surveys, please contact the CAHPS Help Line at or 800-492-9261.

Purpose of the Survey

The main purpose of the CAHPS Surgical Care Survey is to address the need to assess and improve the experiences of surgical patients. Like other CAHPS surveys, this questionnaire focuses on aspects of surgical quality that are important to patients and for which patients are the best source of information. The survey results are expected to be useful to everyone with a need for information on the quality of surgeons and surgical care, including patients, practice groups, health plans, insurers, and specialty boards.

  • Patients can use the information to help make better, more informed decisions about their surgical care.
  • Practices, health plans, and insurers can use the survey results for quality improvement initiatives and incentives. Learn more in the CAHPS Improvement Guide.
  • Surgeons may be able to use the survey for Maintenance of Certification.

Quality Measures from the Surgical Care Survey

The National Quality Forum endorsed the Surgical Care Survey in “Patient experience with surgical care based on the consumer assessment of health care providers and systems CAHPS® surgical care survey.”

The Surgical Care Survey produces the following measures of patient experience:

  • Information to help you prepare for surgery
  • How well surgeon communicates with patients before surgery
  • Surgeon's attentiveness on day of surgery
  • Information to help you recover from surgery
  • How well surgeon communicates with patients after surgery
  • Helpful, courteous, and respectful staff at surgeon's office
  • Patients' rating of the surgeon

Read about the composite and rating measures from this survey. To learn about selecting scores to report and displaying the results to consumers, refer to How to Report Results of the CAHPS Clinician & Group Survey.

Release of the 2.0 Version

In December 2011, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released the 2.0 version of the Surgical Care Survey. This update keeps the Surgical Care Survey consistent with the Clinician & Group Survey, which was updated in October 2011. Because the changes that led to the 2.0 designation do not represent a significant digression from the 1.0 version of this survey, the shift from 1.0 to 2.0 does not affect the ability of survey users to assess trends in performance. Changes include the following:

  • Rewording of the shared decision-making items
  • Minor rewording of a few items to improve consistency within and across CAHPS surveys
  • The addition of a mental health status item following the overall health status item.

Brief History

This survey was sponsored by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) in partnership with other surgical and anesthesia organizations. In 2009, ACS submitted an application to the CAHPS Consortium requesting official adoption of the Surgical Care Survey as a CAHPS instrument. The CAHPS Project Officers and Principal Investigators reviewed the submission and voted to adopt the survey as an official CAHPS product in early 2010. An updated survey was released in December 2011.