Condition category
Not Applicable
Date applied
11/06/2019
Date assigned
13/06/2019
Last edited
01/07/2019
Prospective/Retrospective
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Completed
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting
Publication status
Results

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
Physician review websites have empowered prospective patients to acquire information about physicians. However, little is known about how Web-based ratings on different aspects of a physician may affect patients’ selection of physicians differently.
Objective: The objectives of this study were to examine (1) how patients weigh ratings on a physician’s technical skills and interpersonal skills in their selection of physicians and (2) whether and how people’s choice of a primary care physician versus a specialist is affected differently by Web-based ratings.

Who can participate?
Anyone over the age of 18 living in the USA can participate.

What does the study involve?
Participants are asked to view a screenshot of a webpage of a (faux) physician review site with manipulations on the doctor type (general physician vs. speciality), patients’ ratings (interpersonal and technical skills), and the order of the ratings presented. Participants were instructed to go to a questionnaire on the next page once they feel they have a good understanding of the webpage and can answer questions about it.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
none

Where is the study run from?
Derby Hall, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
March to April 2017

Who is funding the study?
The School of Communication at The Ohio State University

Who is the main contact?
Dr Siyue Li,
li.6836@osu.edu

Trial website

Contact information

Type

Scientific

Primary contact

Dr Siyue Li

ORCID ID

http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8448-0819

Contact details

3058 Derby Hall
154 N. Oval Mall
Columbus
43210
United States of America
614-292-4040
li.6836@osu.edu

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number

Nil known

ClinicalTrials.gov number

Nil known

Protocol/serial number

2017B0066

Study information

Scientific title

The impact of web-based ratings on patient choice of a primary care physician versus a specialist: a randomized controlled experiment

Acronym

Study hypothesis

RQ1: Are people more willing to choose a physician with higher ratings on technical skills than on interpersonal skills, or a physician with higher ratings on interpersonal skills than on technical skills?
H1: People are more willing to choose a specialist who has higher ratings on technical skills than on interpersonal skills, compared with a primary care physician who has the same ratings.
H2: People are more willing to choose a primary care physician who has higher ratings on interpersonal skills than on technical skills, compared with a specialist who has the same ratings.

Ethics approval

Approved 03/01/2017, The Institutional Review Board at The Ohio State University (300 Research Administration building, 1960 Kenny Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1063; +1(614) 688-8457; stoddard.13@osu.edu), ref: 2017B0066.

Study design

Interventional randomised controlled trial

Primary study design

Interventional

Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting

Internet

Trial type

Other

Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet

Condition

Healthy volunteers

Intervention

This experiment was conducted using Qualtrics Labs, Inc. software (www.qualtrics.com). A 2 (ratings on communication skills: high vs. moderate) x 2 (ratings on technical skills: high vs. moderate) x 2 (physician speciality: general practitioner vs. specialist) x 2 (order of ratings: interpersonal skills first vs. technical skills first) factorial design was employed in the study. To control for the ordering effect of ratings, we either placed ratings on interpersonal skills before or after ratings on technical skills.

Participants were recruited on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) and were offered one dollar for their participation. They were randomly assigned to one of the 16 experimental conditions and then asked to view a screenshot of a webpage of a (faux) physician review site with manipulations on the doctor type (general physician vs. speciality), patients’ ratings (interpersonal and technical skills), and the order of the ratings presented. Participants were instructed to go to a questionnaire on the next page once they feel they have a good understanding of the webpage and can answer questions about it. Before exposure to their randomly assigned experimental condition, the participant was reading a brief narrative, explaining that they need to either choose a primary care physician or a specialist.

A total of 16 versions of the faux PRS pages will be created for this study. Each page contains four rating categories about a faux physician, including two items on technical skills and two on interpersonal skills. In conditions with high skills in certain aspects, a physician receives 5 stars on the corresponding items. In conditions with a moderate level of skills, the physician receives 3 stars on the matching items.

Intervention type

Behavioural

Phase

Drug names

Primary outcome measure

1. Perception of the physician measured using a novel questionnaire.
2. Willingness to select the physician measured using a novel questionnaire.

Secondary outcome measures

1. Online health information seeking measured using a novel questionnaire.
2. Previous health experiences (i.e. surgery) measured using a novel questionnaire.
3. Demographic information measured using a novel questionnaire.

Overall trial start date

15/01/2017

Overall trial end date

12/04/2017

Reason abandoned (if study stopped)

Eligibility

Participant inclusion criteria

1 At least 18 years old
2. Live in the United States
3. Proficient in the English language

Participant type

Healthy volunteer

Age group

Adult

Gender

Both

Target number of participants

900

Total final enrolment

608

Participant exclusion criteria

1. Failed the attention checks
2. Spent no time or less than 5 seconds on the Web page

Recruitment start date

01/03/2017

Recruitment end date

12/04/2017

Locations

Countries of recruitment

United States of America

Trial participating centre

Derby Hall, The Ohio State University
154 N. Oval Mall
Columbus
43210
United States of America

Sponsor information

Organisation

The School of Communication at The Ohio State University

Sponsor details

3016 Derby Hall
154 N. Oval Mall
Columbus
43210
United States of America
614 292-3400
schofcomm@osu.edu

Sponsor type

University/education

Website

Funders

Funder type

University/education

Funder name

Ohio State University

Alternative name(s)

OSU

Funding Body Type

private sector organisation

Funding Body Subtype

Universities (academic only)

Location

United States of America

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

The paper was accepted by Journal of Medical Internet Research

IPD sharing statement:
The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are not expected to be made available due to IRB approval restrictions.

Intention to publish date

30/06/2019

Participant level data

Not expected to be available

Basic results (scientific)

The results showed that participants were more willing to choose a physician with higher ratings on technical skills than on interpersonal skills compared with a physician with higher ratings on interpersonal skills than on technical skills, t369.96=22.36, P<.001, Cohen d=1.22. In the selection of different types of physicians, patients were more likely to choose a specialist with higher ratings on technical skills than on interpersonal skills, compared with a primary care physician with the same ratings, F1,521=5.34, P=.021.

Publication list

2019 results in: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31254337 (added 01/07/2019)

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes

01/07/2019: Publication reference and total final enrolment added. 12/06/2019: Trial’s existence confirmed by The Ohio State University.