Pathways, Pyramids and Icebergs: mapping the links between dissatisfaction and complaints

Linda Mulcahy, Jonathan Q. Tritter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


n this article the authors report the findings of a study of satisfaction, dissatisfaction and complaining, funded by the National Health Service Executive (NHSE). Although interest in these issues has increased with the introduction of the Citizen's Charter Initiative and the continued growth of consumerism, few scholars have looked at the relationships between them. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction are commonly viewed as different facets of the same phenomenon. In turn, dissatisfaction is often understood to be a precursor to a complaint, or an embryonic one. The findings presented here suggest that satisfaction and dissatisfaction are linked but are essentially discrete constructs. The authors plot a variety of reactions to dissatisfaction and show that although excessive use is made of formal professional networks, few instances of dissatisfaction emerge as formal complaints. The article concludes that insufficient attention has been paid to understanding the everyday ways in which people cope with dissatisfaction and decisions not to voice a grievance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825-847
Number of pages23
JournalSociology of health and illness monograph series
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1998


  • complaint
  • dissatisfaction
  • dispute
  • satisfaction


Dive into the research topics of 'Pathways, Pyramids and Icebergs: mapping the links between dissatisfaction and complaints'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this