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J Community Health. 2000 Dec;25(6):455-71.

Physicians' perceptions of the changing health care system: comparisons by gender and specialties.

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  • 1Center for Research in Medical Education and Health Care, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107-5083, USA.


This study was designed to investigate physicians' perceptions of changes in the United States health care system impacting academic medicine, quality of care, patient referrals, cost, ethical and sociopolitical aspects of medicine. A survey was mailed in 1998 to 1,272 physicians (graduates of Jefferson Medical (College between 1987 and 1992); 835 physicians (66%) responded. Results showed that a substantial majority (92%) believed that learning to work in a managed care environment should become an essential component of medical education. Physicians perceived that current changes impair physicians' autonomy (94%), and restrain physicians' freedom to provide optimal care (84%). A sizable majority (76%) endorsed patients' freedom to seek specialist care, and 55% believed that capitation reduces physicians' motivation for long-term monitoring of patients. The majority endorsed universal health coverage (80%), and agreed to support rather than resist the changes (62%). Only 18% hold a positive view of the changes in the future. The majority believed that medical education should prepare physicians to provide end-of-life care (92%), and that organized medicine should take a stand on social issues that can influence the well-being of society (79%). Only 34% endorsed the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. No gender differences were observed, but a few differences were found between generalists and specialists. Results can help in understanding physicians' perceptions of current changes in the United States health care system, and in providing guidelines for the development of educational programs to prepare physicians to face new challenges.

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