Customer comfort as a marketing construct in healthcare

Ali Medabesh

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

Customer comfort is an important factor in developing and maintaining relationships between customers and service providers. For example, it plays essential roles in selecting service provider. In spite of its importance, the concept of comfort has not been fully explained in the service marketing literature. Although, comfort has been discussed as a fundamental element in healthcare, its role in developing and maintaining customer relationships has not been fully explored in the boarder marketing literature. The present study focuses on the concept of comfort (physical and psychological) as a crucial factor in marketing health care services, particularly in Saudi private hospitals This thesis examines a number of the antecedents and consequences of physical and psychological aspects of comfort in the marketing arena. Antecedents investigated included: functional and technical dimensions of service quality, the environmental and social aspects of hospital life and service costs (monetary and non-monetary). Patients’ satisfaction was the consequence of customer comfort explored in this thesis. When the relationships between the physical and psychological aspects of comfort and their antecedents were examined, it was concluded that a number of these constructs were shown to have positive effects in the concept of comfort in Saudi private hospitals. For example, the construct of functional service quality appears to have a positive effect in the perception of psychological comfort. The construct of technical service quality, such as staff behaviours, also tends to have a positive effect in the perception of psychological comfort. The social and environmental aspects of hospital life stood out as the only construct that has a positive effect in the perception of physical comfort. While the monetary and non-monetary costs of the service were VII found to have no effect in the perceptions of both physical and psychological comfort. In testing the consequence of the physical and psychological aspects of comfort, it was found that psychological comfort tends to have a positive effect in satisfaction. Finally, the findings showed that the technical dimension of service quality appears to have significant effects in the perceptions of both psychological comfort and satisfaction. This implies that the technical dimension of service quality tends to promote psychological comfort and satisfaction for Saudi patients. The perception of physical and psychological comfort in Saudi private hospitals is also influenced by the roles of the Islamic religion which is based on the holy Quran and Sunnah of Profit Mohammed (peace be upon Him). In addition to the basic dimensions of comfort, these roles can be used to shape the perceptions of the concept of comfort. It may be useful for Saudi private hospitals to direct their efforts towards promoting patients’ comfort and satisfaction by providing healthcare quality experience that focuses on the functional and technical dimensions of healthcare services, the environmental and social aspects of hospitals and the costs of their services. Data has been collected using an established questionnaire to examine the relationship between comfort, service quality, hospital life and costs.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008

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