High Regard For Leading Health Care Professions, Especially For Physicians

The public has a high regard for physicians and for the growing number of nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants. On a scale of A to F, very large majorities of adults who have been to a health care provider within the past year give each an A or a B for both the quality of care and for the medical advice they provide. However, substantially more patients give A’s to physicians than to the two other health care professionals.

    New York, N.Y. – July 17, 2014 – The public has a high regard for physicians and for the growing number of nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants. On a scale of A to F, very large majorities of adults who have been to a health care provider within the past year give each an A or a B for both the quality of care and for the medical advice they provide. However, substantially more patients give A’s to physicians than to the two other health care professionals.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,286 U.S. adults (of whom 1,889 have seen a healthcare professional within the past year) surveyed online between May 14 and 19, 2014.

    Based on their most recent experiences of being treated by them, most patients give their physicians an A (62%) or a B (29%) for the quality of care they received. Only a few patients give them a C (8%), a D (1%) or an F (Less than 1%). These numbers are almost the same as they were in 2012.

    Most patients who have been seen by physicians’ assistants give them an A (52%) or a B (35%) for the quality of care, and most patients also give the nurse practitioners who treated them an A (55%) or a B (31%). Hardly anyone gives either of these professions a D or an F (1%).

    This Harris Poll also asked the public how much trust they have in the health care advice from a number of different sources.

    While a large majority of Americans (70%) have a great deal of trust in the advice given to them by physicians, far fewer have a great deal of trust in the advice given to them by nurse practitioners (34%) or physicians’ assistants (32%). Most people say that they have some trust in the advice from these two professions.

    Among those who have been treated by them, the level of trust in nurse practitioners (51%, a great deal of trust) and in physicians’ assistants (43%, a great deal of trust) is somewhat higher but still significantly less than for physicians.

    The poll also asked about some other sources of health care advice. It found that fewer Americans have a great deal of trust in the advice of pharmacists (28%) and online health care sources (11%) and even less in the advice of medical media (7%) and general news media (3%).

     

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    TABLE 1

    Perceptions of Quality of Care Provided

    Based on your most recent experience with a _____, what grade would you give him or her for the quality of care you received?

    Base: U.S. adults who have visited a health care provider within the past year

     

    A

    B

    C

    D

    F

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Physicians

    2012

    60

    28

    9

    2

    1

    2014

    62

    29

    8

    1

     

    Nurse Practitioner or Physician’s Assistant

    2012

    48

    38

    11

    2

    1

    Nurse Practitioner

    2014

    52

    35

    11

    1

    1

    Physician’s Assistant

    2014

    55

    31

    12

    2

    1

    Note: All percentages are of those who have seen a physician, a nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant in the last year.

     

    TABLE 2

    Trust In Health Care Advice from Different Sources

    How much do you trust healthcare advice from each of the following sources?

    Base: All U.S. adults

     

    A Great Deal

    Some

    Not That Much

    Not At All

    Physicians

    %

    70

    24

    3

    3

    Nurse Practitioner

    %

    34

    51

    9

    5

    Physician’s Assistant

    %

    32

    52

    10

    5

    Pharmacist

    %

    28

    53

    14

    5

    Online Resources, such as WebMD.com, Mayoclinic.com, etc.

    %

    11

    56

    23

    9

    Family Member

    %

    11

    50

    30

    9

    Medical Media, such as Dr. Oz, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, etc.

    %

    7

    40

    34

    19

    Friends

    %

    4

    40

    41

    15

    General News Media such as a magazine article or a television show

    %

    3

    36

    41

    19

    Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding


    TABLE 3

    A Great Deal of Trust in Health Care Advice From Different Sources: Trend 2012 – 2014

    Base: All U.S. adults

     

    2012

    2014

    %

    %

    Physicians

    69

    70

    Pharmacist

    35

    28

    Nurse Practitioner

    37

    34 (51)

    Physician’s Assistant

    34

    32 (43)

    Online Resources, such as WebMD.com, Mayoclinic.com, etc.

    11

    11

    Family Member

    15

    11

    Friends

    6

    4

    General News Media such as a magazine article or a television show

    3

    3

    NOTE – Percentages in parenthesis show replies of people who have been to a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant in the last year.

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 14 and 19, 2014 among 2,286 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 1,889 have visited a health care provider within the past year. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

    The Harris Poll #69, July 15, 2014

    By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman The Harris Poll