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Are two doctors better than one? Women’s physician use and appropriate care

      Abstract

      This study examines nonelderly women’s concurrent use of two types of physicians (generalists and obstetrician-gynecologists) for regular health care and associations with receipt of preventive care, including a range of recommended screening, counseling, and heart disease prevention services. Data are from the 1999 Women’s Health Care Experiences Survey conducted in Baltimore, Maryland, using random digit dialing (N = 509 women ages 18 to 64). Key findings are: 58% of women report using two physicians (a generalist and an ob/gyn) for regular care; seeing both a generalist and an ob/gyn, compared with seeing a generalist alone, is consistently associated with receiving more clinical preventive services, including screening, counseling, and preventive services related to heart disease. Because seeing an ob/gyn in addition to a generalist physician is associated with receiving recommended preventive services (even for heart disease), the findings suggest that non-elderly women who rely on a generalist alone may receive substandard preventive care. The implications for women’s access to ob/gyns and for appropriate design of women’s primary care are discussed.
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