Online patient feedback: a cross-sectional survey of the attitudes and experiences of United Kingdom health care professionals.
Atherton H., Fleming J., Williams V., Powell J.
OBJECTIVES: Online patient feedback is a growing phenomenon but little is known about health professional attitudes and behaviours in relation to it. We aimed to identify the characteristics, attitudes and self-reported behaviours and experiences of doctors and nurses towards online feedback from their patients or their carers. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional self-completed online questionnaire of 1001 registered doctors and 749 nurses and midwives involved in direct patient care in the United Kingdom. RESULTS: Just over a quarter (27.7% or 277/1001) of doctors and 21% (157/749) of nurses were aware that patients/carers had provided online feedback about an episode of care in which they were involved, and 20.5% (205/1001) of doctors and 11.1% (83/749) of nurses had experienced online feedback about them as an individual practitioner. Feedback on reviews/ratings sites was seen as more useful than social media feedback to help improve services. Both types of feedback were more likely to be seen as useful by nurses compared with doctors and by hospital-based professionals compared with those based in community settings. Doctors were more likely than nurses to believe that online feedback is unrepresentative and generally negative in tone. The majority of respondents had never encouraged patients/carers to leave online feedback. CONCLUSIONS: Despite enthusiasm from health policymakers, many health care professionals have little direct experience of online feedback, and rarely encourage it, as they view it as unrepresentative and with limited value for improving the quality of health services. The difference in opinion between doctors and nurses has the potential to disrupt any use of online patient feedback. The findings have implications for policy and practice in how online patient feedback is solicited and acted upon.