Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Fam Pract. 2001 Dec;50(12):1032-7.

Unlocking specialists' attitudes toward primary care gatekeepers.

Author information

  • 1Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA.



Many managed care plans rely on primary care physicians to act as gatekeepers, which may increase tension between these physicians and specialists. We surveyed specialist physicians in California to determine whether their attitudes toward primary care gatekeepers differed depending on how the specialists were paid and the settings in which they practiced.


We performed a cross-sectional survey using a mailed questionnaire. The predictors of specialist attitudes toward gatekeepers were measured using chi-square, the t test, and regression analyses.


A probability sample of 1492 physicians in urban counties in California in the specialties of cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, general surgery, neurology, ophthalmology, and orthopedics was used.


We used questions about specialists' attitudes toward primary care physicians in the gatekeeper role. A summary score of attitudes was developed.


A total of 979 physicians completed the survey (66%). Attitudes toward primary care physicians were mixed. Relative to nonsalaried physicians, those who were salaried had a somewhat more favorable attitude toward gatekeepers (P = .13), as did physicians with a greater percentage of practice income derived from capitation (P =.002).


Specialists' attitudes toward the coordinating role of primary care physicians are influenced by the practice setting in which the specialists work and by financial interests that may be threatened by referral restrictions. Policies that promote alternatives to fee for service and shift specialty practice toward more organized group settings may generate a common sense of purpose among primary care physicians and specialists.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk