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U-M Study: Online Ratings Influence Choosing A Pediatrician

Sep 22, 2014

Would an online review influence your decision on choosing a doctor for your child?  A new University of Michigan study suggests it can make a difference, even if the trustworthiness of the review is questionable.

Credit uofmhealth.org

David Hanauer is a U-of-M associate professor of Pediatrics and lead author of the study.

"Among the people who had used the sites in the past year, and this is actually about two years ago that we did the study, about a third of them had said that they selected a physician based on a good rating, and another third said that they had avoided a physician based on a bad rating," Hanauer says.

He says the study showed that a positive recommendation from a friend or family member combined with a good online review more than doubled the chances a parent would choose a particular pediatrician over word-of-mouth alone.  On the other hand, only three percent of parents would choose a doctor recommended by a family member or friend who had a bad online rating.

Hanauer says persistent questions about the reliability of online reviews didn't seem to make a difference to parents.

He says choosing a doctor is more complex than choosing a place to have dinner, so online reviews should be just part of the process of finding a doctor. 

Results of the study were published in the journal "Pediatrics."