Health information seeking, patient search for a physician, information search satisfaction


The purpose of this research study is to examine the effect of public information sources on an individual's satisfaction with the search process undertaken to select a physician. A quasiexperimental research design was adopted to randomly divide the medical staff of a large central Florida medical group into control and intervention groups of approximately 77 physicians each. The intervention involved insertion of the website address to online physician report cards on to each intervention group physician’s profile in the physician directory on the medical group's website. After two months, data were collected consisting of all individuals who had scheduled first-time appointments with one of the medical group's physicians during the two-month intervention period. A random sample of patients was drawn from each group and sample members were mailed a 62-item questionnaire along with a cover letter, summary of the research and postage-paid reply envelope. A total of 706 questionnaires were mailed and 61 completed questionnaires were returned, an 8.64% response rate. Intent-to-treat analysis was conducted using independent-samples t-tests to compare the research study’s continuous variables' mean scores for control and intervention group participants. The analysis revealed no significant difference in scores for control and intervention groups with the exceptions that the control group was somewhat more committed to conducting a search and selecting a new physician. The control group said the physician's communications skills influenced their satisfaction with the search and selection of a new physician quite a lot while the intervention group said physician communication skills somewhat influenced their satisfaction with search and selection. iv Results of the covariance structure analysis demonstrated that information use and level of commitment to search and select a new physician independently predict search satisfaction. As information use and search commitment increase, a patient's satisfaction with the search increases as well. Furthermore, as information use increases, the variety of information sources relied upon or used also increases. The findings support the alternative hypothesis that the positive or direct effect of physician report cards is demonstrated in the time and cost of patient search for a physician for both intervention and control groups. One other alternative hypothesis was partially supported, i.e., the effect of household income is confirmed in patient search and satisfaction in selecting a physician. The alternative hypotheses that proposed that physician report cards are more likely to be used to search for a medical specialist and that physician experience, office location and accepted insurance effect patient search and selection of a physician were not tested. Two other alternative hypotheses were rejected. The research findings also indicated that predictors of health care information search satisfaction vary based upon the environment and contextual factors in which the search is conducted.


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Graduation Date





Wan, Thomas T. H.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Public Affairs








Release Date

December 2014

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs, Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic