A cross sectional survey of the UK public to understand use of online ratings and reviews of health services

Patient Educ Couns. 2018 Sep;101(9):1690-1696. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2018.04.001. Epub 2018 Apr 9.


Objectives: To identify the self-reported behaviour of the public in reading and writing online feedback in relation to health services.

Methods: A face-to-face cross-sectional survey of a representative sample of the UK population. Descriptive and logistic regression analyses were undertaken to describe and explore the use of online feedback.

Results: 2036 participants were surveyed, and of 1824 Internet users, 42% (n = 760) had read online health care feedback and 8% (n = 147) had provided this feedback in the last year. People more likely to read feedback were: younger, female, with higher income, experiencing a health condition, urban dwelling, and more frequent internet users. For providing feedback, the only significant association was more frequent internet use. The most frequent reasons for reading feedback were: finding out about a drug, treatment or test; and informing a choice of treatment or provider. For writing feedback they were to: inform other patients; praise a service; or improve standards of services. 94% had never been asked to leave online feedback.

Conclusion: Many people read online feedback from others, and some write feedback, although few are encouraged to do so.

Practice implications: This emerging phenomenon can support patient choice and quality improvement, but needs to be better harnessed.

Keywords: Consumer behaviour; Internet; Nurses; Patient experience; Physicians; Policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feedback*
  • Female
  • Health Services*
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult