Health Policy

Primary care physician perceptions of the nurse practitioner in the 1990s.

Aquilino, M.L.; Damiano, P.C.; Willard, J.C.; Momany, E.T.; Levy, B.T.
1999 May-Jun

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate factors associated with primary care physician attitudes toward nurse practitioners (NPs) providing primary care.

DESIGN: A mailed survey of primary care physicians in Iowa.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Half (N = 616) of the non-institutional-based, full-time, primary care physicians in Iowa in spring 1994. Although 360 (58.4%) responded, only physicians with complete data on all items in the model were used in these analyses (n = 259 [42.0%]).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: There were 2 principal dependent measures: physician attitudes toward NPs providing primary care (an 11-item instrument) and physician experience with NPs in this role. Bivariate relationships between physician demographic and practice characteristics were evaluated by chi 2 tests, as were both dependent variables. Ordinary least-squares regression was used to determine factors related to physician attitudes toward NPs.

RESULTS: In bivariate analyses, physicians were significantly more likely to have had experience with an NP providing primary care if they were in pediatrics or obstetrics-gynecology (78.3% and 70.0%, respectively; P < .001), had been in practice for fewer than 20 years (P = .045), or were in practices with 5 or more physicians. The ordinary least-squares regression indicated that physicians with previous experience working with NPs providing primary care (P = .01), physicians practicing in urban areas with populations greater than 20,000 but far from a metropolitan area (P = .03), and general practice physicians (P = .04) had significantly more favorable attitudes toward NPs than did other primary care physicians.

CONCLUSIONS: The association between previous experience with a primary care NP and a more positive attitude toward NPs has important implications for the training of primary care physicians, particularly in community-based, multidisciplinary settings.