Date of Award

12-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Management

Advisor

Fredendall, Lawrence D

Committee Member

Moore , DeWayne

Committee Member

Dye , Cheryl J

Abstract

Customers who can effectively perform the tasks necessary in their service participation, and who are motivated to perform these tasks, experience improved satisfaction and service quality. In order to ensure customers have adequate skills and motivation, service designs incorporate practices which train and educate them. The goal of this research was to investigate how customers can effectively be trained and educated so that they can perform their service tasks. Based on various theories used in the field of management, we developed several research models to investigate this issue. These models were tested through survey data collected from adult patients with type-2 diabetes who attended outpatient diabetes education programs provided by seven hospitals in South Carolina during 2009 and 2010. These seven educational programs served approximately 6,560 patients during these two years, and we sent the survey to a representative sample of 3,198 patients in the spring of 2011. A total of 518 surveys (a 16 percent response rate) were returned. The sample characteristics are a good match with the characteristics of the population; 67 percent are female, 83 percent white, and 79 percent older than 45 years. Our analysis involved bivariate correlations and structural equation modeling factors including the difficulty of the health-related tasks (e.g., measuring blood glucose level and meal planning) that patients have to learn, the educational methods used for teaching these tasks (e.g., attendance at group classes and extent of hands-on experience etc.), the outcomes of the educational methods (e.g., patient knowledge and motivation etc.) and demographics (e.g., gender, race and education etc.). It was found that training and education have value for both customers and service providers; however, these programs can be more effective if they are tailored based on the characteristics of the tasks that customers need to perform. We also provide suggestion on how managers can improve customer training and education in their services.

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