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J Gen Intern Med. 1999 Dec;14(12):730-9.

Comparison of osteopathic and allopathic medical Schools' support for primary care.

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  • 1Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Helath Care, Boston, MA 02215, USA.



To contrast prevailing behaviors and attitudes relative to prJgiary care education and practice in osteopathic and allopathic medical schools.


Descriptive study using confidential telephone interviews conducted in 1993-94. Analyses compared responses of osteopaths and allopaths, controlling for prJgiary care orientation.


United States academic health centers.


National stratified probability samples of first-year and fourth-year medical students, postgraduate year 2 residents, and clinical faculty in osteopathic and allopathic medical schools, a sample of allopathic deans, and a census of deans of osteopathic schools (n = 457 osteopaths; n = 2,045 allopaths).


Survey items assessed personal characteristics, students' reasons for entering medicine, learners' prJgiary care educational experiences, community support for prJgiary care, and attitudes toward the clinical and academic competence of prJgiary care physicians.


PrJgiary care physicians composed a larger fraction of the faculty in osteopathic schools than in allopathic schools. Members of the osteopathic community were significantly more likely than their allopathic peers to describe themselves as socioemotionally oriented rather than technoscientifically oriented. Osteopathic learners were more likely than allopathic learners to have educational experiences in prJgiary care venues and with prJgiary care faculty, and to receive encouragement from faculty, including specialists, to enter prJgiary care. Attitudes toward the clinical and academic competence of prJgiary care physicians were consistently negative in both communities. Differences between communities were sustained after controlling for prJgiary care orientation.


In comparison with allopathic schools, the cultural practices and educational structures in osteopathic medical schools better support the production of prJgiary care physicians. However, there is a lack of alignment between attitudes and practices in the osteopathic community.

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