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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998 Aug;152(8):768-73.

General pediatricians, pediatric subspecialists, and pediatric primary care.

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Kids First Hockessin, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Del, USA.



To assess the respective roles of general pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists in the provision of primary pediatric care.


A practice characteristics questionnaire that included questions about primary care was sent to a random sample of 1616 board-certified and board-eligible active Fellows of the American Academy of Pediatrics; 1145 (70.9%) responded. Analyses pertain to those pediatricians who provided ambulatory patient care and were not in graduate medical education training at the time of the survey. Respondents were divided into 2 groups for purposes of analysis: the 527 pediatricians whose practice was primarily in general pediatrics (defined as 80% of time spent in general pediatrics or any time spent in adolescent medicine) and the 213 pediatricians whose practice was subspecialty focused (all others). These groups were then further stratified according to whether they provided primary care. The resultant subgroups contained 518 general pediatricians and 98 subspecialists who provided primary care.


Among the entire sample, general pediatricians indicated that general pediatricians provide 93% of the primary care delivered by their practice and that pediatric subspecialists provide 2% of the primary care. In contrast, pediatric subspecialists reported that general pediatricians provide 53% of the primary care delivered by their practice and that subspecialists provide 32% of such care (P<.001). Among the subsample of pediatricians who provide primary care, general pediatricians reported delivering 88% of the primary care received by their patients and subspecialists reported delivering 74% of the primary care received by their patients (P<.001).


Perspectives on the degree to which pediatric subspecialists provide primary pediatric care vary depending on generalist vs subspecialist self-identification.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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