Influence of electronic and traditional word-of-mouth on patients’ health-care-seeking behavior

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Ming Chen
Peihong Zhang
Xiaohong Chen
Cite this article:  Chen, M., Zhang, P., & Chen, X. (2018). Influence of electronic and traditional word-of-mouth on patients’ health-care-seeking behavior. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 46(5), 759-768.


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Patients are increasingly choosing health-care institutions based on online comments; thus, we examined the influence of different forms of word-of-mouth (electronic or traditional) on patients’ health-care-seeking behavior. Data were collected from 415 patients who during 2015–2016 sought medical advice at a large 3rd-grade, class-A hospital in China. Results showed that, compared to those influenced by traditional word-of-mouth, patients influenced by electronic word-of-mouth paid significantly more attention to reviews of the health-care institutions, and also spent more time and energy choosing an appropriate health-care institution. In addition, treatment method (invasive vs. noninvasive) had a moderating influence on patients’ confidence in the health-care institution. That is, those influenced by traditional word-of-mouth had greater confidence than those influenced by electronic word-of-mouth in invasive procedures provided by the chosen health-care institution, although there was no difference in confidence for patients undergoing noninvasive procedures. Practical and theoretical implications are discussed.

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