Interest in different types of patients. What factors influence new-to-practice family physicians?
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OBJECTIVE: To identify factors that influence new-to-practice family physicians to be particularly interested in certain types of patients. DESIGN: Qualitative study and cross-sectional survey. SETTING: Ontario family practices. PARTICIPANTS: Seven focus groups involved a volunteer sample of 34 physicians who completed family medicine residency training between 1984 and 1989. A convenience sample of 43 physicians who had completed their residencies between 1990 and 1992 were interviewed. All certificates of the College of Family Physicians of Canada currently practising in Ontario who received certification between 1989 and 1991 were surveyed. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Physician interest as determined by scores on two scales: one labeled "Chronic/Older Patient," designed to assess special interest in geriatric patients, chronic pain patients, palliative care patients, and chronically ill patients, and one labeled "Young Patient," designed to assess special interest in young families and adolescents. RESULTS: In general, new-to-practice physicians had little interest in caring for older or chronic patients; older physicians and male physicians had greater interest in caring for chronic or older patients. Women physicians, physicians rating higher on the "empathy" and "interest in counseling" scale, and physicians receiving primarily fee-for-service remuneration showed greater interest in caring for young families and adolescents than other physicians. CONCLUSIONS: Physicians' age, sex, attitudes to patient care, method of remuneration, undergraduate and postgraduate schools of medical training, and the age and sex composition of their practices all influenced their interest in caring for different types of patients.
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