Poll: Majority of parents skeptical of online physician reviews

Although roughly one-third of parents use online physician ratings to help inform their search for providers, most say they don't have total confidence in Web-based reviews, according to research from U.S. News & World Report

More than two-thirds of parents don't trust online reviews of physicians and even assume some are made up, according to a national poll by the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor. About the same proportion of parents also said there is an insufficient number of ratings to make support decision-making, while more than half of parents believe physicians may influence who posts ratings, according to the report.

The poll found 36 percent of mothers and 22 percent of fathers visited websites with online ratings to find a physician for themselves or a family member in the past year. Two-thirds of these people based their decision on the ratings they read, according to the report.

Older parents expressed the most concerns about online ratings. More than 70 percent of parents over 30 were worried they might be influenced by fake reviews. Fifty-nine percent of parents younger than 30 expressed the same concern.

"Doctor-rating sites have the potential to help make the patient-physician relationship more service-oriented," said David Hanauer, MD, lead author of the study and a pediatrician at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. "In order for online rating sites to become a more accepted and useful tool, doctors will need to be more engaged in the process, in ways that assure that ratings are authentic."

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