The Pew Internet Project has tracked the use of online consumer reviews since 2000 and it has always ranked among the most popular activities in the commercial realm: 8 in 10 internet users say they have researched a product or service online. By contrast, only about one in five internet users have consulted online reviews and rankings of health care service providers and treatments.
When it comes to writing reviews of general-interest items, 37% of internet users say they have rated a product, service, or person online and 32% have posted a comment or review online about product they bought or service they received. People are much less likely to post a review of a treatment, hospital, or clinician – between 3-4% of internet users have done so.
The results for health-related reviews are comparable to those we recorded in 2010. Consulting online reviews of particular drugs or medical treatments, however, took a noticeable dip in the last two years. Some 18% of internet users do so today, compared to 24% in 2010.
Internet users between the ages of 30-64 years old are the most likely group to say they have consulted online reviews and rankings of health treatments and services. Suburban internet users are more likely than rural internet users to consult online health care reviews.
Posting online health reviews and rankings is comparatively infrequent. Just 7% of internet users have ever posted reviews or rankings on any of the the three health topics we surveyed: drugs and medical treatments, doctors, and hospitals. This translates into 6% of American adults.
Unlike consulting online health rankings and reviews, there are no clear demographic trends when it comes to posting. (See Appendix for details.)