How does Patient Opinion ensure story integrity?

Update from Patient Opinion Australia

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The Patient Opinion Australia system was developed in the United Kingdom and based on their experience, have implemented three different safeguards used to verify author authenticity when a story is submitted online:

  • Authors must provide their postcode (which is used to verify that their location is within a reasonable distance from the service their story is about)
  • Authors are asked for an email address * (which is used to manually contact authors about their story where required, or send automated notifications to authors when their story has been published or has received a response)
  • The system automatically identifies their IP address (which can be used to identify if a single device is being used to submit multiple stories).


* At times, Patient Opinion will see anomalies related to email and IP addresses, such as invalid emails entered in the story submission process and the same IP address being used for multiple stories about different authors. It is important to understand that anomalies do not necessarily indicate a manipulation of the system. For example:

  •  While we do advise authors that we will not reveal their email address or identity without their permission (or if a life is in danger), we recognise that some authors prefer to withhold their genuine email address for legitimate reasons. 
  • A single device being used to submit multiple stories does not necessarily indicate deceptive behaviour. Oftentimes it is because a staff member at a health service is entering stories with patients on their behalf.


If a valid email address is not provided, the author will not receive an automated notification of the publication of their story or when a response is received. They can, however, look up their story and read the response at any time.

As guaranteeing author anonymity is one of the foundations of Patient Opinion, we have always respected an author’s decision to withhold their email address. It should also be noted that an invalid email address is often down to a typing error (e.g. gmial instead of gmail, or .com instead of .com.au).

If a health service has reservations about potential manipulation of the system, we encourage services to examine what incentives they may have for lying and make the focus of Patient Opinion on learning and changing to more patient-centred care.

As it is critical that telling stories remains quick, easy and accessible to everyone, and with processes and safeguards in place, Patient Opinion will, in good faith, publish most stories.

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