Survey: Few Individuals Trust Online Doc Ratings, Prefer Referrals

July 21, 2014 in News

U.S. residents trust doctor recommendations from family or friends more than quality information available on online patient review or ratings website, according to a new survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, AP/Boston Globe reports (Neergaard/Agiesta, AP/Boston Globe, 7/21).

Survey Details

Researchers from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research surveyed 1,002 adults over the telephone between May 27 and June 18 in both English and Spanish.

The survey sought to determine how patients find quality doctors and covered a range of factors that affect their decision-making.

According to AP/U-T San Diego, respondents were chosen at random and are nationally representative of the U.S. population.

The survey was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (AP/U-T San Diego, 7/20).

Survey Findings

Researchers found that about 60% of U.S. residents said they would “very much or completely trust” quality ratings of health care providers from family or friends, compared with about 10% who said they trusted free online rating websites, such as:

  • Angie’s List;
  • HealthGrades.com; and
  • Yelp.

Further, the survey found that only 26% of respondents said high scores for physicians on such websites are extremely or very important to their decision-making process (AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey, July 2014).

When trying to effectively compare the quality of local physicians, only about 22% of patients said they were confident that they could find such information online (AP/Boston Globe, 7/21).

Meanwhile, the survey found that the majority of respondents — more than 60% — reported receiving quality physician information from family or friends, compared with:

  • About 40% of respondents who said they saw such information on a ratings website, such as Yelp;
  • 36% of respondents who said they saw quality data on a community or advocacy group’s website; and 
  • 32% of respondents who said they saw quality physician information on a government website (AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey, July 2014).

However, more than 70% of patients said quality of information would improve if physicians were required to publicly report their patients’ health and treatment outcomes and satisfaction rates (AP/Boston Globe, 7/21).

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