Nurses top, doctors a distant second in health care provider ratings

Highlights of the story

  • Eight in 10 Americans rate nursing care as excellent or good
  • Nursing homes rank last after pharmaceuticals and health insurance companies
  • Nurses more successful than doctors, hospitals in maintaining a high rating

WASHINGTON, D.C. — At the end of a year in which Gallup found that Americans’ trust in the U.S. health care system is at its lowest level in a decade, a new survey reveals that some prominent players in the system are still widely recognized , while others do not.

Nurses receive the highest rating by far, with 82% saying they provide excellent or good care, with doctors second at 69%. Smaller majorities are positive about care provided by hospitals (58%), urgent care clinics (56%), and telemedicine or virtual doctor visits (52%).

Meanwhile, less than half of Americans gave favorable ratings to the four remaining health care entities measured: hospital emergency rooms (47%), drug or pharmaceutical companies (33%), health insurance companies (31%) and nursing homes (25%).


These results are from the 2023 Gallup Health and Healthcare Survey conducted November 1-21.

Most adults who did not rate top-performing provider care, as well as emergency department care, as excellent or good overall rated it as “only fair,” while no more than 11% rated it as “poor.”

However, the same cannot be said for pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies or nursing homes. Poor ratings for them (ranging from 32% to 37%) were as high or higher than those rating them only fair.

In keeping with Americans’ skepticism about nursing home care, a West Health-Gallup survey conducted earlier this year found that seven in 10 Americans do not want to live in a nursing home if they ever do. unable to care for themselves, with most citing skepticism about the quality of care as their main reason.

Nursing and physician ratings of medical care reflect the honesty and ethics survey

Nurses’ top ranking among health care providers underscores their leading position among U.S. professions overall in Gallup’s annual ratings of professional integrity and ethics. Most recently, in December 2022, nursing topped the list of 18 occupations rated, with 79% of Americans saying they have “very high” or “high” standards of honesty and ethics. In second place are doctors with 62%.

Likewise, the pharmaceutical industry’s low ranking among health entities is consistent with its position among all major industries in the country. Gallup’s August survey of 25 U.S. business and industry sectors showed the pharmaceutical industry ranked last, with only 18% having a favorable opinion of it, 60% an unfavorable opinion and 21% feeling neutral about it.

Nurses maintain a high rating while other providers’ scores shrink

Not only are nurses widely respected for the care they provide, but they have avoided the sharp decline in ratings that has befallen much of their industry.

Gallup twice previously asked Americans to rate the medical care provided by various health care organizations, in 2003 and 2010, and found little change in the ratings of most of them over those seven years. Since then, however, positive perceptions have been sharply lower for most. The exceptions are clinics, whose rating is about the same as in 2010, and nurses, who are six percentage points lower than in 2010.

In contrast, the percentage of Americans who say pharmaceutical companies provide excellent or good service is 21 points lower today. Similarly, ratings are now lower for doctors (-15 points), hospitals (-14 points), hospital emergency departments (-13 points), health insurance companies (-11 points) and nursing homes (-8 points).


Many things have happened since 2010 that could explain these changes, including higher health care costs, the opioid crisis, the coronavirus pandemic, the related controversy over mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, and, more recently, the shortage of health personnel.

Whatever the cause, two results of these changes are that physicians now lag behind nurses in recognition, and hospital emergency departments lag behind admitting or urgent care clinics in the perception of quality care.

Although a small majority of Americans believe that telemedicine provides excellent or good care, nearly on par with 56% who say the same about walk-in clinics, the percentage is still much lower than for physicians alone, indicating that users feel something is missing from the virtual health experience.

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