Role of family physicians in an urban hospital: Tracking changes between 1977, 1997, and 2014.
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OBJECTIVE: To investigate changes in family doctors' attitudes about and participation in hospital activities and inpatient care in an urban hospital family medicine department from 1977 to 1997 and 2014. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey design. SETTING: The Department of Family Medicine at St Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton in Ontario. PARTICIPANTS: Family physicians affiliated with the Department of Family Medicine at St Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton were surveyed in 2014. Data were compared with findings from similar surveys administered at this institution in 1977 and 1997. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Family physicians' roles in hospital activities, attitudes toward the role of the family physician in the hospital setting, and the barriers to and facilitators of maintaining this role. RESULTS: A total of 93 physicians returned completed surveys (37.3% response rate). In 2014, half of the respondents provided some inpatient care. This patient care was largely supportive and newborn care (71.7% and 67.4%, respectively). In 2014, 47.3% believed the quality of care would suffer (compared with 92.1% in 1977 and 87.5% in 1997) if they were not involved in patient care in the hospital. There was also a considerable shift away from the 1977 and 1997 perception that the family physician had a role as patient advocate: 92.0% and 95.3%, respectively, compared with only 49.5% in the 2014 survey. CONCLUSION: Family physicians' hospital activities and attitudes continued to change from 1977 to 1997 and 2014 in this urban hospital setting. Most of the respondents had stopped providing direct inpatient care, with a few continuing to provide supportive care. Despite this, most respondents still see a role for the Department of Family Medicine within the hospital as a focus for identifying with their family physician community, a place to interact with other specialist colleagues, and a source of some continuing medical education.
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