Choosing a plastic surgeon to perform a breast reconstruction after going through something as life-altering as breast cancer is no easy decision. A study by Amanda Sergesketter, MD, et al., published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (July 2022), explored what factors women consider most important when choosing a surgeon.
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The authors distributed an online survey to 1,025 women via Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk; Amazon Web Services, Inc., Seattle, Wash.). After first imaging a scenario in which the participants had to choose a reconstructive surgeon after being diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently getting a mastectomy, the survey asked them to rank the various factors that would influence their decision on a Likert scale of one to seven. The authors then used two-sample t tests to compare the Likert scores of dichotomized categories derived from participant characteristics.
The highest-ranking [mean (standard deviation)] factors were online reviews on Vitals or WebMD, with a score of 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)]. The factors that received the lowest scores were online advertising and surgeon demographics, including whether the surgeon is the same sex as the patient (female).
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After these factors were organized into subsections for comparison, the relative importance of each subsection was rated [mean (standard deviation)], with the surgeon’s reputation [0.72 (0.13)] scoring higher than appearance [0.46 (0.19)] and demographics [0.31 (0.13)]. The relative importance of certain attributes was influenced by participant demographics, with older, educated and higher-income participants placing a higher value upon the surgeon’s appearance (all p < 0.05).
The study concluded that women looking for a breast reconstruction surgeon most value a surgeon’s online, educational and personal reputation, while most demonstrate little to no preference when it comes to surgeon demographics and physical appearance.