Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Manag Care. 2004 Mar;10(3):209-16.

Physician satisfaction with formulary policies: is it access to formulary or nonformulary drugs that matters most?

Author information

Department of Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles 90073, USA.



To assess physician satisfaction with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) formulary policies and to examine the correlation between physician satisfaction and perceived access to formulary and nonformulary medications.


Cross-sectional survey with specific questions on access to formulary and nonformulary medications. Statistical analyses included assessment of associations between physician satisfaction and various measures of access.


Initial sample of 4015 staff physicians working in VA healthcare facilities. Responses were received from 1812 (49%) of the 3682 physicians in the final eligible sample population.


Most clinicians (72%) reported that their local formulary covered more than 90% of the medications they wanted to prescribe. Most (73%) agreed that drug restrictions were important to contain costs, and 86% agreed that it was important for VA to choose "best-value" drugs. Respondents reported an 89% approval rate for nonformulary drugs, though 31% indicated that approvals routinely took 3 or more days. We found strong associations between physician satisfaction and self-reported approval rates for nonformulary drugs (P = .001), timely approval of nonformulary requests (P < .001), and percentage of nonformulary prescriptions as a proportion of overall prescriptions at a regional level (P< .01). There was no significant correlation between physician satisfaction and number of medications added to regional formularies or with drug costs per unique patient.


VA physicians were generally supportive of VA formulary policies including choosing best-value drugs to control pharmaceutical expenditures. Nevertheless, access to nonformulary drugs and timely approval of requests for nonformulary medications were strong predictors of clinician satisfaction and support for cost-containment measures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Managed Care & Healthcare Communications, LLC
Loading ...
Support Center