Steven Bedrick

Using Publicly Available Reddit Data to Understand How Parents Choose Pediatricians

Chionye Ossai, Steven Bedrick, Benjamin Orwoll
Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet, Jan 2022

Abstract

Parents are increasingly using online physician rating sites to select a pediatrician. However, no studies have examined the role of social media in influencing parents' choice of a pediatrician. The objective of this study was to qualitatively analyze what factors influence the choice of a pediatrician in an online peer support community. We retrieved retrospective data of all threads made to 4 subreddits on the Reddit social media platform between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2019. We performed qualitative analysis using an inductive approach on threads related to choosing a pediatrician. We identified several codes which were grouped into subcategories/categories and finally abstracted into themes. We retrieved a total of 179 threads and included 30 for qualitative analysis. Thematic analysis led to identification of four major themes that influence how parents choose pediatricians on a social media platform---pediatrician-specific factors, office-related factors, parent/patient factors, and social factors. An online peer support community can serve as an important source of information for parents when searching for a pediatrician. Pediatric practices should focus on providing unmet information needs to parents that will ease the burden of the search process.

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