Finding Quality Doctors: How Americans Evaluate Provider Quality in the United States

With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted a national survey of 1,002 adults ages 18 and over.

A new survey conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that Americans do not think that information about the quality of health care providers is easy to come by, and they lack trust in information sources that tend to produce such indicators. When it comes to what being a quality health care provider means, there is a disconnect between how experts and consumers define it. Most Americans focus on the doctor-patient relationship and interactions in the doctor’s office, with fewer thinking about the effectiveness of treatments or their own health outcomes. Further, individuals report that they value provider quality over cost and are willing to pay more for higher-quality doctors, but when asked directly in the survey, few report having done so. The nationally representative survey, conducted with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, also shows that those without insurance face more challenges in finding provider quality and cost information.

This survey of American adults seeks to better understand their perceptions of health care provider quality, what they think provider quality means, how accessible such quality information is, how much they trust that information, and the connection between provider quality and cost. The study produces new and actionable data during a crucial period of the Affordable Care Act’s implementation. Interviews were conducted with 1,002 adults age 18 and over.