Choosing a doctor for your child

Only 25% of parents consider doctor rating websites important searching for a child’s physician

Published On: Feb 18 2013 08:21:57 AM EST   Updated On: Feb 18 2013 08:28:24 AM EST

When choosing a doctor for their children, most parents rely on word-of-mouth recommendations, accessible location and insurance acceptance, rather than on online ratings of doctors, based on a new poll from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.


Currently, doctor rating websites are not perceived as important as other types of information as parents make decisions for their children’s healthcare.  Nevertheless, perceived importance of online ratings appears to differ widely based on factors such as parent age and gender. For mothers and younger parents in general, higher ratings of importance for doctor rating websites may reflect higher levels of access to, or comfort with, online ratings sources that are based on user reviews.

Importantly, there is currently no oversight or regulation for rating websites that collect ‘crowdsourced’ information about doctors. Issues of trust may become important as questions arise about the reliability of the ratings or whether they are subject to manipulation in positive or negative directions. It is worth noting that word of mouth from family and friends is not regulated, either; but those sources of information may be perceived as more directly accountable by parents seeking the information, and therefore more trustworthy.

It remains to be seen how influential doctor rating websites will be, or how parents will navigate among the many choices for ratings websites in the future. Ultimately, the websites that have the greatest impact may be the sources that are perceived as most informative and trustworthy in advising parents in the selection of their children’s healthcare providers. In the meantime, the time-honored grapevine—not to mention, insurance coverage and office location—remain more important to parents.

 C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s National Poll on Children’s Health measures public opinions, perceptions and priorities about today’s most important child health issues and trends.