What Patients Say About Their Doctors Online: A Qualitative Content Analysis
- 2.1k Downloads
Doctor rating websites are a burgeoning trend, yet little is known about their content.
To explore the content of Internet reviews about primary care physicians.
Qualitative content analysis of 712 online reviews from two rating websites. We purposively sampled reviews of 445 primary care doctors (internists and family practitioners) from four geographically dispersed U.S. urban locations. We report the major themes, and because this is a large sample, the frequencies of domains within our coding scheme.
Most reviews (63%) were positive, recommending the physician. We found a major distinction between global reviews, “Dr. B is a great doctor.” vs. specific descriptions which included interpersonal manner, “She always listens to what I have to say and answers all my questions.”; technical competence “No matter who she has recommended re: MD specialists, this MD has done everything right.”; and/or systems issues such as appointment and telephone access. Among specific reviews, interpersonal manner “Dr. A is so compassionate.” and technical competence “He is knowledgeable, will research your case before giving you advice.” comments tended to be more positive (69% and 80%, respectively), whereas systems-issues comments “Staff is so-so, less professional than should be…” were more mixed (60% positive, 40% negative).
The majority of Internet reviews of primary care physicians are positive in nature. Our findings reaffirm that the care encounter extends beyond the patient–physician dyad; staff, access, and convenience all affect patient’s reviews of physicians. In addition, negative interpersonal reviews underscore the importance of well-perceived bedside manner for a successful patient–physician interaction.
KEY WORDSpatient satisfaction primary care family medicine patient–physician relationship
The authors would like to acknowledge Dr. Anna M. Nápoles and Dr. Dean Schillinger for their early advice on this project. Dr. Sarkar is supported by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality K08 HS017594 and National Center for Research Resources KL2RR024130.
None of the funders had any role in design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of the data; or preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.
Conflict of Interest
- 1.Shinchuk LM, Chiou P, Czarnowski V, Meleger AL. Demographics and attitudes of chronic-pain patients who seek online pain-related medical information: implications for healthcare providers. Am J Phys Med Rehabil;89(2):141-6.Google Scholar
- 4.Rochman B. Health group therapy. Why so many patients are sharing their medical data online. Time;175(5):47-8.Google Scholar
- 6.Fox S, Jones S. The Social Life of Health Information Pew Internet & American Life Project; 2009.Google Scholar
- 7.Feldman R. He may be friendly, but is your doctor competent? Indystar.com; 2010.Google Scholar
- 9.Tuffs A. German doctors fear that performance rating websites may be libellous. (1468-5833 (Electronic)).Google Scholar
- 13.Freudenheim M. Noted Rater of Restaurants Brings Its Touch to Medicine New York Times; 2009.Google Scholar
- 14.Lagu T, Hannon NS, Rothberg MB, Lindenauer PK. Patients’ evaluations of health care providers in the era of social networking: an analysis of physician-rating websites. J Gen Intern Med;25(9):942-6.Google Scholar
- 15.Fost D. The Coffee Was Lousy. The Wait Was Long. New York: New York Time; 2008.Google Scholar
- 16.Borzekowski DL, Schenk S, Wilson JL, Peebles R. e-Ana and e-Mia: A content analysis of pro-eating disorder web sites. Am J Public Health;100(8):1526-34.Google Scholar
- 18.Trochim W. The Research Methods Knowledge Base. 2nd ed. Cincinnati, OH: Atomic Dog Publishing; 2000.Google Scholar
- 19.Strauss A, Corbin J. Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.; 1990.Google Scholar
- 20.Lagu T, Hannon NS, Rothberg MB, Lindenauer PK. Patients’ Evaluations of Health Care Providers in the Era of Social Networking: An Analysis of Physician-Rating Websites. J Gen Intern Med.Google Scholar
- 33.YELP. An introduction to Yelp. 2010.Google Scholar
- 39.Tanner L. Doctors seek gag orders to stop patients’ online reviews. USA Today: The Associated Press; 2009.Google Scholar
- 40.Lee TB. Doctors and dentists tell patients, "all your review are belong to us". 2011.Google Scholar
- 41.Church C. Mutual privacy agreements: a tool for medical practice protection. Ridge Business Journal. May 4, 2009.Google Scholar