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JOURNAL OF MEDICAL EDUCATION. 1975 Sep; 50(9):839-48.The importance of consumer perceptions of health care services in relation to behavioral outcome was assessed in 903 household interviews in rural Illinois. The interview scale was designed to measure evaluation of health care in the area, beliefs about physician behavior, reasons for postponing doctor visits, and general attitudes toward health care services. The 18 factor scores that measured consumer perceptions were found to explain a significant amount of the variance in terms of the behavioral outcomes of number of physician visits during the preceding year, whether or not the respondent scheduled a medical check-up when not sick during the prior year, whether annual dental visits were made, and whether there had been a change in physician as a result of patient dissatisfaction. Covariates such as health status or ability to pay less significant than perceptual measures. Of particular significance were measures of patient perceptions regarding the conduct of physicians and other health care providers in relation to their patients, especially continuity and humaneness of care. Quality of care factors that emerged as significant were thoroughness, preventive measures, surgical conservatism, female health care, use of medication, information giving, and use of the health care system. These findings indicate that the perceptions of consumers of health care should be given greater emphasis in the planning and evaluation of health care systems. The authors are currently involved in further refinement and validation of rating scales that emphasize the consumer viewpoint.