Women undergoing breast reconstruction often research their health care provider options. The authors studied which factors may influence how a woman selects a plastic surgeon for breast reconstruction surgery.
An online survey was distributed by means of Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk; Amazon Web Services, Inc., Seattle, Wash.) to 1025 adult women. Participants were asked to imagine a scenario in which they had breast cancer, needed to undergo mastectomy, and were choosing a reconstructive surgeon. They were then asked to rank factors influencing this decision on a 1 to 7 Likert scale. Two-sample t tests were used to compare Likert scores between dichotomized categories based on participant characteristics.
Women assigned the highest scores [mean (standard deviation)] to online reviews on Vitals or WebMD [6.1 (1.2)], years of experience [5.7 (1.4)], recommendations from another surgeon [5.7 (1.3)] or family/friend [4.9 (1.7)], and attending a top medical school [4.7 (1.7)]. Lowest ranked factors were online advertising and surgeon demographics, including having a sex concordant (female) surgeon. After amalgamation into attribute subsections, mean (standard deviation) rated relative importance of surgeon reputation [0.72 (0.13)] was higher than that of appearance [0.46 (0.19)] and demographics [0.31 (0.13)]. Patient demographics influenced relative importance of certain attributes; older, educated, and higher-income patients placed higher value on surgeon appearance (all p < 0.05).
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. Cognizance of these preferences may enable providers to more effectively understand patient expectations.