Americans More Likely To Seek A Second Opinion For A Major Car Repair Than For A Medical Procedure Or Straightening Their Teeth

Cost Savings and Treatment Alternatives are Among Top Reasons to Seek Second Opinions, Experts Say

Millions of Americans wouldn’t hesitate to get a second opinion if their vehicle needed repair, yet a stunning percentage fail to seek a second opinion for important health decisions, a new survey reveals. A recent poll, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Invisalign® among over 2,000 US adults in July 2013, reveals that 70 percent of US adults said they would seek a second opinion for a major home repair and/or improvement, more than half would for a major car repair, and 30 percent would for personal electronics repair. By contrast, just 19 percent said they have sought a second opinion for a medical condition, 17 percent for a medical procedure and just 6 percent for dental work.

“A second opinion can be valuable to patients who face complex, risky, or costly treatments,” says Michael Goddard, DPM, a foot and ankle surgeon. “A second opinion may reveal simpler, less expensive, or more effective treatment options. What’s more, having two medical professionals concur on a course of treatment can provide patients with enhanced peace of mind that they are making the right decision for their health.”

Trust in their current doctor or dentist is a major reason why Americans said they would not seek a second opinion. “Health professionals do not view it as a breach of trust when a patient seeks a second opinion,” Goddard says. “We want patients to be as informed and confident as possible when making treatment decisions.”

The value of getting a second opinion extends to dental work as well as other types of health procedures. Less than 25 percent of US adults said they would get a second opinion for teeth straightening and only 10 percent for oral procedures such as a root canal. Yet many of these oral procedures meet the criteria for meriting a second opinion; they are invasive, costly, and have long-term impact if not handled properly.

“At least 15 percent of my Invisalign patients are second opinion cases who were told they were not candidates for this minimally invasive teeth straightening option. The reality is that almost every adult and teen patient can be an Invisalign candidate for at least a portion of their orthodontic treatment,” says New York-based Dr. Joseph Hung of Manhattan Orthodontics. “Many patients inquire about this type of straightening because the aligners are clear, removable, and more convenient than metal braces. If they have been told they are not candidates, a second opinion from a qualified and experienced orthodontist may show them that it can be possible to pursue their first choice in treatment options.”

Additional “Second Opinions” survey insights include:

  •   *I trust my doctor. The majority of US adults who have any doctors are confident in their medical and oral care providers’ medical advice, and trust their medical assessments, therefore not needing to seek a second opinion. Most US adults would consider getting a second medical opinion for a medical procedure (63%) or condition (52%).
  •   *I am less likely to question my oral health care provider than my doctor. Less than a quarter would consider a second opinion for teeth straightening, and only 10% for a routine dental procedure.
  •   *I question car repair more than diagnosis for my body. When asked what they have gotten a second opinion on, more than one third have gotten one for car repair services (37%) or major home improvements/repairs (36%). Less than one fifth have gotten one for household services, home appliance repair, or personal electronic repair. Medically speaking, around one fifth have gotten a second opinion for a medical condition or procedure. Less than one in ten have sought a second medical opinion for teeth straightening or routine dental procedures.


“While patients facing serious health issues may be more likely to seek a second opinion, having more information and a better understanding of all treatment options can be valuable for many patients making non-critical medical or dental and orthodontic related decisions,” Hung says. “Of the patients who came to me for a second opinion on their teeth straightening options, most say they are happy they did it.”