Health clinic conditions may be to blame for decrease in primary care physicians

Jul 08, 2009

Adverse work conditions may be to blame for the decline in the number of primary care physicians nationwide, according to a study published in the latest issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"Unfavorable work conditions are associated with stress, burnout and intent to leave for physicians," said Dr. Anita Varkey, study author and assistant professor in the department of medicine, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "These factors contribute to poor job satisfaction, which is among the reasons we are seeing a decrease in the number of primary care physicians."

The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the overall shortage of doctors may grow to 124,400 by 2025.

"There are not enough primary care physicians to meet current needs," said Varkey, who also is medical director of the general medicine clinic at Loyola Outpatient Center, Loyola University Health System. "These findings suggest that a chaotic clinic environment may further exacerbate this problem and potentially lead to lower quality of patient care due to physician turnover and lack of continuity in care."

Data for this study were collected from 422 family practitioners and general internists and 1,795 of their adult patients with diabetes, hypertension or at 119 clinics in New York and the Midwest. Study participants were asked about perception of clinic workflow (time pressure and pace), work control, organizational culture, physician satisfaction, stress, burnout and intent to leave practice.

More than half of the physicians (53.1 percent) reported time pressure during office visits, 48.1 percent said their work pace was chaotic, 78.4 percent noted low control over their work and 26.5 percent reported burnout. Adverse workflow (time pressure and chaotic environments), low work control and unfavorable organizational culture were strongly associated with low physician satisfaction, high stress, burnout and intent to leave. Some work conditions also were associated with lower quality of patient care and more errors, but findings were inconsistent across work conditions and medical diagnoses.

The authors indicated that interventions in primary care clinics should target measures to reduce physician burnout, clinic chaos and work control measures. A healthier workplace for physicians may result in better recruitment and retention of primary care physicians, which may then translate to higher quality patient care.

"While further research is needed, health care reform strategies should consider the role that work environment plays in and quality of patient care," Varkey added.

Varkey is an internist who specializes in primary care, preventive medicine and women's health. She sees patients at Loyola Outpatient Center.

Source: Loyola University Health System (news : web)

Explore further: 'Ice Bucket Challenge' passes $100 mn mark

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Minority health-care clinics separate but unequal

Feb 09, 2009

A study published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine may shed new light on why minority Americans have poorer health outcomes from chronic conditions such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

Medicare recipients see declines in continuity of care

Apr 22, 2009

According to a study by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, elderly Medicare recipients transitioning from outpatient to hospital settings were more likely to experience lapses in continuity ...

Study links primary care shortage with salary disparities

Sep 09, 2008

The nation's shortage of primary care physicians has been linked to a host of poor health outcomes, and a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that salary disparities play a majo ...

Recommended for you

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

Medtronic spends $350M on another European deal

Aug 27, 2014

U.S. medical device maker Medtronic is building stronger ties to Europe, a couple months after announcing a $42.9 billion acquisition that involves moving its main executive offices across the Atlantic, where it can get a ...

Mind over matter for people with disabilities

Aug 26, 2014

People with serious physical disabilities are unable to do the everyday things that most of us take for granted despite having the will – and the brainpower – to do so. This is changing thanks to European ...

User comments : 0