gms | German Medical Science

Klasse statt Masse – wider die wertlose Wissenschaft: 18. Jahrestagung des Deutschen Netzwerks Evidenzbasierte Medizin

Deutsches Netzwerk Evidenzbasierte Medizin e. V.

09.03. - 11.03.2017, Hamburg

Why are so few patients rating their physicians on online physician rating websites? Cross-sectional survey of four north German cities

Meeting Abstract

Klasse statt Masse – wider die wertlose Wissenschaft. 18. Jahrestagung des Deutschen Netzwerks Evidenzbasierte Medizin. Hamburg, 09.-11.03.2017. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2017. Doc17ebmP5b

doi: 10.3205/17ebm031, urn:nbn:de:0183-17ebm0316

Veröffentlicht: 23. Februar 2017

© 2017 McLennan et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open-Access-Artikel und steht unter den Lizenzbedingungen der Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (Namensnennung). Lizenz-Angaben siehe



Background and research question: Physician rating websites (PRWs) allow patients to rate, comment and discuss physicians’ quality online as a source of information for others searching for a physician. It is generally assumed that PRWs will only be helpful for users, and fair for the rated, if there are a high number of ratings. However, the number of ratings on PRWs remains low internationally and there is currently a lack of research examining the reasons why patients are not rating their physicians. This study aims to examine participants´ awareness and use of ratings sites and identify key reasons why participants have not previously rated a physician.

Methods: A mailed cross-sectional survey was sent to a random sample (N= 1600) from 4 North German cities between April and July 2016. Descriptive statistics included medians and means for continuous variables and percentages for categorical variables. To assess potential predictors of awareness and use of PRWs, nine candidate predictors were preselected and tested with three different models (univariate/multiple/penalized regression). Conventional content analysis was performed on the free text responses.

Results: Overall, a total of 280 completed surveys were returned, a 17.5% response rate. Awareness and usage of PRWs was lower than rating sites for hotels and restaurants, technical products and media, though higher than for hospital rating websites. When choosing a physician, the importance of factors such as recommendations from family and friends were endorsed more frequently than PRWs. Gender and martial status were predictors of awareness of PRWs, and age was a predictor of have looked at physician ratings. There were no relevant predictors for previously rating a physician. Participants who had previously used a PRW, but had not personally rated a physician, identified a number of reasons why they had not previously rated a physician, including the nature of the physician-patient relationship, low confidence in evaluating physicians’ performances, and various technical barriers. A growing number of patients are utilising the internet in relation to their health care and it is expected that PRWs will play an increasingly important role. These findings will be helpful in guiding future research and health policy initiatives to increase the usefulness and fairness of PRWs.