Purpose: The study examined psychologically meaningful language dimensions (i.e., social and emotional dimensions, health dimensions, and personal concerns) within online consumer reviews on hearing healthcare services using an automated textual analysis approach.
Method: 9,622 consumer reviews of hearing healthcare services, including an open-ended question (i.e., free text response to the prompt “share details of your own experience at this place”) and an overall rating (on a 5-point scale ranging from “very good” to “very poor”) were extracted from Google.com from 40 different cities across the U.S. In addition, some meta-data about the cities (i.e., region, population size, median age, percentage of older adults) were also recorded. Text responses were analyzed using the automated Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) software for selected language dimensions. The language dimensions of online hearing healthcare reviews were descriptively compared with language dimensions observed in the natural language of typical bloggers. Language dimensions from free text responses were correlated with quantitative overall experience ratings.
Results: Automated linguistic analysis showed that consumer reviews on hearing healthcare services had higher social processes, positive emotions, hearing, health, money and work and lower negative emotions and time-awareness when compared to typical bloggers. Examining the association between overall experience rating and the language dimensions reveled two broad findings. First, higher engagement of consumers in terms of social processes, positive emotions, hearing, and work dimensions was related to higher experience ratings. Second, higher engagement of consumers in terms of negative emotions, time awareness, and money was related to lower experience ratings.
Conclusion: Online reviews contain information about various dimensions (i.e., social and emotional dimensions as well as personal concerns) that have bearing towards the way in which they rate their healthcare experiences. Automated linguistic analysis of consumer reviews appears helpful in identifying gaps in service delivery that may influence consumer experience.