The Most Common Words Used in Nursing Home Reviews

Yelp can be a powerful tool for finding healthcare businesses, including nursing homes and hospitals, and we’ve found that Yelp offers broader information than the industry standard HCAHPS survey. Recently, the New York Times covered the issue of poor patient care at nursing homes and the challenges with implementing oversight programs.

To shed more light on what Yelp can tell us about nursing homes, I dug into Yelp’s reviews and business-page views.

In the last five years, the rate at which Yelp users have been viewing the pages of nursing homes as a share of all health-care businesses has steadily increased. That indicates that people are seeking this information more often and looking for reviews and other context to help them decide what facility to use.

It’s also interesting to look at the content of reviews for nursing homes on Yelp and compare what themes and keywords are mentioned more often in both one-star and five-star reviews.

For both ends of the spectrum, “care” is the most commonly mentioned term, after excluding a standard list of 153 generic words such as “we,” “it” and “is.” “Home” and “place” are mentioned about as frequently in five-star reviews while “place” is three times as common in one-star reviews. In both, “mother” and “mom” are two to three times more common than “father” and “dad,” likely reflecting the greater life expectancy of women than men.

It’s interesting to note that common words mentioned in both five-star and one-star reviews reflect the emotional aspect of the experience, like “family,” “loved,” and “caring.” Yelp reviews can be particularly helpful for this type of context around performance or experience not typically captured in hospital data and metrics. Yelp also provides easy access to important care statistics from Medicare and Medicaid, like the number of serious deficiencies and fines, through our partnership with ProPublica.

As consumers increasingly turn to online reviews to help them make health-care choices, I expect we’ll have even more data to work with.

Rachel Youngblade contributed to this blog post.

Are you a journalist or researcher who’d like to learn more about this data or get your hands on Yelp data of your own? Please contact me at