Seeing the same physician regularly leads to better preventive care

July 16, 2004

According to a new study, adults who regularly visit the same doctor for health care are most likely to receive better preventive treatment, like vaccines for influenza or breast cancer screening. The results support the conclusion that provider continuity is related to improved health care outcomes for patients.

A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine analyzed the association between three categories of medical care and resulting measures of preventive medicine, placing emphasis on health promotion through primary care practice. In tracking data from households in over sixty communities across the United States, researchers assessed preventive measures offered to persons with varied health care habits, ranging from visits with a regular provider to no regular place of care at all.

Influenza vaccinations and mammography were the two types of care offered significantly more to adults with a regular doctor and visits to the same health care site. An increase in receipt of advice on smoking cessation was also observed. Potential reasoning for these effects pointed to "trust" as a likely link between physician continuity and adherence to recommendations. Similar studies lend weight to these results that provider continuity is related to improved outcomes in care. Examples include reductions in hospitalization and emergency room visits.

"Current trends in health care delivery, including involuntary disenrollment from health insurance coverage, the emergence of managed care and larger physician groups, and the use of physician extenders, are diminishing opportunities for provider continuity," states corresponding author, Dr. Mark P. Doescher. "Our research provides support for efforts to reverse this trend."
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Media wishing to receive a pdf of this article please contact medicalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

About the Author

Dr. Mark P. Doescher is the Associate Project Director on "King County Steps to Health", a CDC-funded project to reduce the burden of asthma, diabetes and obesity among low-income residents of South Seattle and adjacent suburbs. He received an M.D. from the University of California-San Francisco and currently provides primary care and teaches resident physicians and medical students at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, WA. Dr. Doescher is available for questions and interviews and can be reached at mdoesche@u.washington.edu or 206-616-9207.

About the Journal of General Internal Medicine The Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM) is the official scientific publication of the Society of General Internal Medicine, whose mission is to promote improved patient care, research, and education in primary care and general internal medicine. JGIM articles focus on topics such as clinical research, curriculum development, epidemiology, prevention, and health care delivery in general internal medicine.

About Blackwell Publishing

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading, independent society publisher with offices in the US, UK, Japan, Denmark, Australia, and Germany. Blackwell publishes over 700 journals in partnership with more than 550 academic and professional societies.

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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