Board Certification and Practice Style

An Analysis of Office-Based Care

Published in: Journal of Family Practice, v. 33, No. 4, 1991, p. 395-400

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1990

by Geoffrey M. Anderson, Robert H. Brook, Albert P. Williams

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BACKGROUND: The relationship between family practice certification and practice style has important health policy implications. We used data from the RAND Health Insurance Experiment to study the relationship between family practice certification and (1) patient characteristics including age and sex of patients, and (2) facets of practice style including probability of hospital admission, number of visits in an episode of care, number of physicians seen per episode, total charges per episode, charges per service category, and inputs per service category. METHODS: Data on health care service utilization by a sample of 5554 nonelderly individuals over a 1-year period were used to define episodes of care. Multivariate regression techniques were used to measure the association between family practice certification and patient characteristics and between family practice certification and practice style, controlling for the effects of patients characteristics. RESULTS: Patients of certified family physicians were an average of 3 years younger than patients of noncertified family physicians, but other demographic characteristics were similar. Certified family physicians had higher pathology services charges and inputs, but no statistically significant differences in other measures of charges and inputs. CONCLUSIONS: Certified and noncertified family physicians treat similar patients. Certification in family practice is not associated with major differences in total service charges, but is associated with differences in the use of laboratory diagnostic services.

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