Parental awareness and use of online physician rating sites

Pediatrics. 2014 Oct;134(4):e966-75. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-0681. Epub 2014 Sep 22.


Background and objective: The US public is increasingly using online rating sites to make decisions about a variety of consumer goods and services, including physicians. We sought to understand, within the context of other types of rating sites, parents' awareness, perceptions, and use of physician-rating sites for choosing primary care physicians for their children.

Methods: This cross-sectional, nationally representative survey of 3563 adults was conducted in September 2012. Participants were asked about rating Web sites in the context of finding a primary care physician for their children and about their previous experiences with such sites.

Results: Overall, 2137 (60%) of participants completed the survey. Among these respondents, 1619 were parents who were included in the present analysis. About three-quarters (74%) of parents were aware of physician-rating sites, and about one-quarter (28%) had used them to select a primary care physician for their children. Based on 3 vignettes for which respondents were asked if they would follow a neighbor's recommendation about a primary care physician and using multivariate analyses, respondents exposed to a neighbor's recommendation and positive online physician ratings were significantly more likely to choose the recommended physician (adjusted odds ratio: 3.0 [95% confidence interval: 2.1-4.4]) than respondents exposed to the neighbor's recommendation alone. Conversely, respondents exposed to the neighbor's recommendation and negative online ratings were significantly less likely to choose the neighbor children's physician (adjusted odds ratio: 0.09 [95% confidence interval: 0.03-0.3]).

Conclusions: Parents are beginning to use online physician ratings, and these ratings have the potential to influence choices of their children's primary care physician.

Keywords: Internet; child; clinical competence; consumer health information; health care; online systems; parents; patient satisfaction; physicians; primary care physicians; quality indicators; surveys.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Awareness*
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet / standards*
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents*
  • Physicians, Primary Care / standards*
  • Young Adult