About the Dutch Health Care Consumer Panel

The aim of the Consumer Panel is to measure, at national level, opinions on and knowledge about health care and the expectations and experiences with health care.

The Consumer Panel can also be used for conducting research on more specific groups within the Dutch population (e.g. youth or women from age 20 to 40). Furthermore, for part of the panel members it is possible to combine their answers on questionnaires with data about their healthcare use as registered by their general practitioner.

We publish the results of all the research conductedWe publish the results of all the research conducted

Within the panel, we investigate a diverse range of research questions. Due to our statutory obligation, we have to publish the results of all the research conducted within the Consumer Panel. By collecting information at national level regarding opinions and experiences of users of health care, as well as by publishing the results of the conducted research, the panel helps to strengthen the position of healthcare users.

Background of the Consumer PanelBackground of the Consumer Panel

The Dutch Health Care Consumer Panel was set up in 1992 by Nivel (Netherlands institute for health services research) and the Dutch Consumers Association. Since 2004, Nivel manages the Consumer Panel. Throughout the years, the number of panel members increased. In 2004, the panel consisted of approximately 1,500 members. Subsequently, the panel increased to about 3,000 members in the year 2006. As of now, the panel consists of almost 12,000 panel members aged 18 years and older.

Surveys

Also, the number of surveys increased since 2004: from about two or three surveys a year to about eight surveys a year. Surveys are questionnaires which are sent by post or through the internet to members of the panel. These questionnaires are mainly composed by Nivel

Program committee

Topics to investigate within the Consumer Panel are chosen in agreement with the program committee of the panel. This program committee consists of representatives of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the Health Care Inspectorate, Zorgverzekeraars Nederland (Association of Health Care Insurers in the Netherlands), the National Health Care Institute, the Federation of Patients and Consumer Organisations in the Netherlands, the Dutch Healthcare Authority and the Dutch Consumers Association.

Finances

The Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport finances the infrastructure of the panel and one and a half survey a year. The rest of the surveys are financed by others (for example universities) who make use of the Consumer Panel.

Method: Access PanelMethod: Access Panel

The Consumer Panel is a so-called ‘access panel’. An access panel consists of a large number of persons who have agreed to answer questions on a regular base. In addition, many background characteristics of these persons (for example age, level of education, income, self-reported general health) are known. From our access panel we can draw the samples for every separate survey.

What kind of samples can be drawn from the panel?

We use three kinds of samples:

  1. A sample representative of the Dutch population
    Firstly, we can draw a sample that is representative of the Dutch population. In this case, we compare the composition of our panel with the general population in the Netherlands based on data from Statistics Netherlands (www.cbs.nl). The sample size depends on the number of background characteristics of the Dutch population the sample has to reflect. Currently, we send out about eight surveys per year. Most of them are representative of the general population by gender and age.
  2. A sample based on background characteristics of our panel members
    Secondly, it is possible to draw a sample that is based on a selection of background characteristics that we know from our panel members. Possible sample selections are elderly (65 years and older) or women between age 20 and 40 etcetera.
  3. A sample from members who agreed to combine their answers with their healthcare data
    Thirdly, it is possible to draw a sample from panel members who agreed to combine their answers on questionnaires with data about their healthcare use as registered by their general practitioner.
How do we collect our data?

Within the Consumer Panel, data are collected using surveys, interviews and focus groups.

Surveys

  • In total, approximately eight surveys a year are conducted.
  • Each individual member of the panel receives a questionnaire around three times a year.
  • Panel members can choose whether they want to receive a questionnaire by post or through the internet.
  • The response rate depends on the target group and the subject of the questionnaire. Usually, we have a response rate of 60 percent for the questionnaires.

Interviews and focus groups
In addition to the written and online questionnaires, we are equipped to recruit members for interviews (by telephone or face-to-face) and focus groups, and to conduct these interviews and focus groups.

 

Why is the panel renewed?

The panel is renewed on regular base to enable us to form a representative sample of the Dutch population.
Renewal is necessary to make sure that members do not develop specific knowledge of, and attention for, healthcare issues, and that no ‘questionnaire-fatigue’ occurs.
Moreover, renewal compensates for panel members who, for example, have died or moved without informing us about the new address.

How is the panel renewed?

We recruit possible new members for the panel by means of two ways.

  1. We buy an address file from an address supplier
    Firstly, we buy an address file from an address supplier. As a result, possible new members for the panel are sampled at random from the general population in the Netherlands. When we buy an address file, we make sure that certain groups that are underrepresented in our panel, for example young people, are overrepresented in the address file that we buy for the renewal.
  2. New members via general practices participating in the Nivel Primary Care Database
    Secondly, since 2013, we also recruit possible new members via general practices participating in the Nivel Primary Care Database. A part of the patients of these general practices will be selected by a third party, and subsequently approached to become member of the Consumer Panel. For the members who are recruited by means of general practices, it is possible to combine their answers on questionnaires with data about their healthcare use as registered by their general practitioner if they explicitly agreed with this. Sampled people receive an information letter about the panel, a flyer and a basic questionnaire on their background characteristics (for example: age, level of education, income etc.). When the basic questionnaire is completed and returned, people are considered to be members of the panel.
How do we guarantee the privacy of our panel members?

The privacy of our panel members is guaranteed. We use anonymised data en our research is processed according to the Privacy Policy of the Dutch Healthcare Consumer Panel (only available in Dutch), which complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Anonymised data
Every panel member has a unique number, which is linked to the address of the member. These addresses are stored separately from the data of the questionnaires. All data are carefully stored by Nivel. Privacy of panel members is guaranteed, since people who analyse the data do not have access to the personal information of the panel members.

According to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Data are analysed anonymously, and processed according to the privacy policy of the Dutch Healthcare Consumer Panel, which complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). According to the Dutch legislation, neither obtaining informed consent nor approval by a medical ethics committee is obligatory for doing research within the Consumer Panel.
Only for combining answers on questionnaires with data about healthcare use as registered by their general practitioner informed consent is needed and asked.

More information
More information about research subjected to the WMO you can find at de site of het Central Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects (CCMO).

What is our research used for?What is our research used for?

Our research is used for different objectives. It is used to evaluate policy and also to generate input for policy making. Furthermore, effects of changes in health care can be identified and experiences with health care can be measured as well as the knowledge and expectations with respect to health care.

The Consumer Panel is used for a wide range of research questions. Many subjects are investigated once, but we also conduct longitudinal studies.

Examples of our research

  • We conduct research into changing health insurer by consumers. This is measured nearly every year since 2006. We examine – among others – the number of switchers, their characteristics and their reasons for switching.
  • We conduct longitudinal research within the panel regarding consumer trust in health care (measured every two years).

The research conducted within the Consumer Panel results in a large number of publications. We publish in international peer-reviewed journals and we also publish reports, columns and factsheets on our site.

More informationMore information

For more information on the Consumer Panel please contact:

Anne Brabers PhD, Senior researcher
[T] +31 [0]30 272 98 55
[E] a.brabers@nivel.nl

Postal addressPostal address of the Dutch Health Care Consumer Panel

 

Nivel
Consumentenpanel Gezondheidszorg
PO Box 1568
3500 BN Utrecht
The netherlands

Visiting address
Otterstraat 118-124
3513 CR UTRECHT

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Brabers, A.E.M. About the Dutch Health Care Consumer Panel. Uit: www.nivel.nl [Laatst gewijzigd op 26-03-2021; geraadpleegd op 22-10-2021]. URL: https://www.nivel.nl/nl/consumentenpanel-gezondheidszorg/about-dutch-health-care-consumer-panel
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