Reputation most important factor in choosing breast reconstruction surgeon

When hypothetically selecting a breast reconstruction surgeon, women place the highest value on surgeons’ online, educational, and personal reputations, according to a study published in the July issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Amanda R. Sergesketter, M.D., from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues conducted an online survey to study which factors may influence how a woman selects a plastic surgeon for breast reconstruction surgery. The analysis included responses from 1,025 adult women.

The researchers found that women assigned the highest scores to online reviews on Vitals or WebMD (mean 1-to-7 Likert scale, 6.1), years of experience (5.7), recommendations from another surgeon (5.7) or family/friend (4.9), and attending a top medical school (4.7). Online advertising and surgeon demographics, including having a sex-concordant (female) surgeon, were the lowest-ranked factors. After merging attribute subsections, mean rated relative importance of surgeon reputation was higher than appearance or demographics. However, older, educated, and higher-income patients placed higher value on surgeon appearance.

“When selecting a breast reconstruction surgeon, women place the highest value on surgeons’ online, educational, and personal reputations. Though most show no strong preferences for surgeon demographics or physical attributes, specific features may be important for some patients,” the authors write. “Cognizance of these preferences may enable providers to more effectively understand patient expectations.”