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Rural primary care physicians are committed to professionalism, quality improvement
Date:2/20/2014

The increased demand for primary care services expected to result from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may be felt strongly in rural areas. While studies have found that the quality of care delivered to rural patients is as good or better than that available in urban areas, the belief persists that top-quality primary care is only available in big cities. But a new study appearing in the National Rural Health Association's Journal of Rural Health finds few meaningful differences between rural and urban primary care physicians on key measures of professionalism, including their attitudes about participation in quality care improvement. The study did find differences in the likelihood of physicians' knowing a colleague who was impaired or incompetent, in their confidence evaluating new information and in several aspects of their interactions with patients.

"In terms of professional beliefs and behaviors, we found that rural and urban doctors are more alike than they are different," says study leader Eric G. Campbell, PhD, director of Research at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Despite our results and other evidence, the perception still exists that rural primary care is not as good as that available in cities. So we needed to learn more about the factors driving that misperception and the role it may play in the continuing shortage of rural physicians in the U.S."

Campbell and his co-authors note that, while smaller rural communities may have disadvantages in terms of fewer training options, rural primary-care physicians are significantly more likely to participate in activities such as quality improvement in their practices and hospitals. The fact that rural physicians are more likely to have personal as well as professional relationships with thei
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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