Printed on: February 19, 2014

Car and movie review sites more popular than online MD reviews

CHICAGO (AP) -- Doctor ratings are less popular than those of toasters, cars and movies when it comes to online consumer sites. That's according to a 2012 survey that found most adults hadn't checked online physician reviews -- and most said a conveniently located office and accepting patients' health insurance was more important.

Still, the sites do appear to be swaying opinions. About a third of patients who viewed online sites sought out or avoided physicians based on ratings.

The growing popularity of online doctor ratings is a concern since there's no way to know whether a review is real or fake or what might have motivated the reviewer, said lead author Dr. David Hanauer, a pediatrician and associate professor at the University of Michigan.

More than one-third of those surveyed had checked out online reviews for movies, restaurants, appliances or electronics, and more than 1 in 4 viewed online car ratings. But less than 1 in 5 said they had viewed online physician ratings.