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J Ambul Care Mark. 1995;6(1):99-108.

The relative importance of information sources in consumers' choice of hospitals.

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  • 1Loyola College, Baltimore, MD 21210, USA.


The research presented focuses on an examination of the relative importance of word-of-mouth, expert opinion, external communication, and past experience in the context of hospital choice. Past research has examined the effect of each individually and various combinations of the four sources, but not all four simultaneously. Results of the present study suggest that past experience plays a greater role in hospital choice than other information sources, including expert opinion. The strength of word-of-mouth as a source of information is also verified. The implications of this research include the following: (1) health care researchers need to incorporate word-of-mouth when investigating informations sources, and (2) local hospitals need to be aware of "negative perceptions" and strive for consumer satisfaction. Health care delivery systems incorporating consumer-based choice render these findings especially valuable as researchers and practitioners address the challenges that these evolving systems will bring.

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