What's the first thing U.S. medical consumers look for in a physician? Far and away, the answer is someone who listens and pays attention to them.

And when consumers want information that compares either health plans or physicians, who are they most likely to turn to? Friends and family, rather than the emerging data bases that are being created to help health care consumers make better choices for themselves.

Those are two of the big takeaways from an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research study of Americans and their relationship with their primary care provider. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the study offers compelling insight into how Americans choose primary care providers, what they expect of them, and the role quality and affordability play in the relationship.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.