The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has released the results of a major survey examining the public’s opinions about what it means to be a quality health care provider in the United States. The survey, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sheds new light on how American adults perceive the quality of their health care and doctors, as well as the information they use and trust when making health care decisions. The survey produces new and actionable data during a crucial period of Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation. Interviews were conducted with 1,002 adults age 18 and over.
“This survey is designed to provide meaningful data on how consumers understand, trust, and use the health care information available to them,” said Trevor Tompson, vice president for public affairs research for NORC at the University of Chicago and director of the AP-NORC Center. “This survey provides answers to key questions around Americans’ perceptions of health care quality, such as: What are the main factors people consider when choosing a doctor? How do Americans evaluate the available information on their providers? What is more important when choosing a doctor: cost or quality? The survey also explored whether people think public reporting requirements would improve health care in the U.S.”
Key findings from the study include:
• When it comes to defining provider quality, most Americans tend to focus on certain aspects of quality relating to doctor-patient interactions and doctors’ personality traits, rather than the effectiveness of the care provided or the patient’s own health outcomes.
• Consumers agree with health policy experts in principle that public reporting requirements for doctors would improve health care quality. Overwhelming majorities say requiring doctors to report the effectiveness of their treatments and patient satisfaction with care would improve the quality of care provided in the United States.
• Yet, this survey shows that less than a quarter of consumers are receiving provider quality information. Most people are not very confident they could find provider quality information they can trust on their own, including direct comparisons of physicians.
• Americans report that they would trust word-of-mouth and personal recommendations from doctors far more than provider quality data coming from the government or third parties.
• Getting information on the cost of provider care is even more challenging for Americans than finding information about provider quality. A third of Americans say it is easy to find information they trust related to the costs of provider care. Fewer say it’s easy to find data that compares a provider’s costs and quality.
• About half of Americans believe that higher quality health care generally comes at a higher cost, while 37 percent say there is no real relationship between quality and cost.
• Despite the fact that more Americans are now insured as a result of the ACA, those without insurance face more challenges in finding information about provider quality and cost; at the same time, they are more likely than the insured to think public reporting of such information would improve the overall quality of care doctors provide.
Additional information, including the survey’s complete topline findings, can be found on the AP-NORC Center’s website at www.apnorc.org.
About the Survey
The survey was conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research between May 27 and June 18, 2014. It was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This random-digit- dial (RDD) survey of the 50 states and the District of Columbia was conducted via telephone with 1,002 adults age 18 and older. The sample included 595 respondents on landlines and 407 respondents on cell phones. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish, depending on respondent preference. All interviews were completed by professional interviewers who were carefully trained on the specific survey for this study. The overall margin of error was +/- 4.0 percentage points, including the design effect resulting from the complex sample design.
NORC at the University of Chicago
NORC at the University of Chicago is an independent research organization headquartered in downtown Chicago with additional offices in the University of Chicago campus, the D.C. Metro area, Atlanta, Boston, and San Francisco. NORC also supports a nationwide field staff as well as international research operations. With clients throughout the world, NORC collaborates with government agencies, foundations, education institutions, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to provide data and analysis that support informed decision making in key areas including health, education, crime, justice, and energy. NORC’s more than 70 years of leadership and experience in data collection, analysis, and dissemination—coupled with deep subject matter expertise—provides the foundation for effective solutions to issues confronting society.
The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP. On the Web: www.ap.org.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all Americans to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.
Contact: For more information please contact: Eric Young for NORC at the University of Chicago at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-217-6814; Paul Colford for AP at email@example.com.