An Empirical Investigation of the Mediating Role of Customer Attachment in South African Private Hospitals

Hester SPIES, Nedia MACKAY


Background and purpose: Relationship marketing literature acknowledges the important role of attachment in customer-organization relationships, but shows limited theoretical and empirical understanding of the factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of attached customers. To address this gap, this paper draws on the relationship marketing view and synthesizes important relationship constructs with the aim of developing a mediated attachment model for private hospitals in South Africa. Design/Methodology/Approach: A quantitative descriptive research design was implemented, collecting 303 use­able questionnaires via non-probability convenience sampling. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients and a confirmatory factor analysis were conducted to determine the reliability and validity of the measures respectively, and a SEM was conducted for the mediation analysis. Results: The results indicate that respondents’ relationship value was significantly related to attachment, loyalty and fear of relationship loss, and attachment was significantly related to loyalty and fear of relationship loss. More­over, the indirect effect of attachment in the relationship between relationship value and loyalty, as well as in the relationship between relationship value and fear of relationship loss was found to be significant. Conclusion: Attachment plays a significant role in both the direct and indirect relationships with key relationship marketing constructs. The importance of attachment in building patient-hospital relationships should therefore not be ignored, and private hospitals are encouraged to invest in their relationships with patients, with the aim of estab­lishing attachment. Keywords: Attachment, Fear of relationship loss, Loyalty, Private hospitals, Relationship value

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