High Regard For Leading Health Care Professions, Especially For Physicians

July 17, 2014

Large majorities of the public give very high marks to physicians, nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants for quality of care but are somewhat less confident in their medical advice

NEW YORK, July 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — 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. (To see the full results including data tables, click here)

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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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

About Nielsen & The Harris Poll
On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.

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The Harris Poll

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SOURCE The Harris Poll

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