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Title:An Investigation of the Physician Search Process and Its Relationship to Perceived Illness Acuity (Health Care, Marketing)
Author(s):King, Karen Whitehill
Department / Program:Speech Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Mass Communications
Abstract:Subject. An understanding of the search process patients go through when locating a physician can help health-care professionals better understand the information needs of their patients. This understanding can help practitioners compete more successfully in the increasingly competitive health-care market. More importantly, it can help practitioners provide more useful information to their patients.
This study investigates the relationship between patients' perceived illness severity and the search process they undertake to locate a physician.
Method. Data were collected via a self-administered questionnaire in a large multi-specialty medical clinic in Central Illinois. A total of 365 interviews were conducted in six patient waiting rooms in an attempt to include a respondent base with a range of illness severity. Age and sex quotas were employed to insure adequate cell sizes for comparative analysis.
The questionnaire included items on the external information sources consulted, types of information used and their importance (bi-polar seven-point scale). In addition, patients evaluated the seriousness of their illness, the level of fear or upset and pain or discomfort it caused them and their likelihood of having future surgery. For 251 of the respondents, the patients' physician also rated the seriousness of their condition and the purpose of their visit.
Results. The results support previous research findings that suggest little systematic search activity among patients. Patients reported using other doctors most frequently as information sources followed by friends and relatives. Differences were found, however, in the sources consulted and types of information sought based on patients' perceived level of illness severity. The more serious patients perceived their illness, the more likely they were to use another doctor as an information source. Those who were referred by another doctor checked fewer additional sources of information and spent less time in the search process. Demographic differences in the search process were also identified.
Suggested implications for marketing communication strategies and avenues for future research are discussed.
Issue Date:1986
Description:191 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8623342
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-05-13
Date Deposited:1986

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