Illuminating the 'black box' - A description of 4454 patient visits to 138 family physicians

Title

Illuminating the 'black box' - A description of 4454 patient visits to 138 family physicians

Creator

Stange K C; Zyzanski S J; Jaen C R; Callahan E J; Kelly R B; Gillanders W R; Shank J C; Chao J; Medalie J H; Miller W L; Crabtree B F; Flocke S A; Gilchrist V J; Langa D M; Goodwin M A

Publisher

Journal of Family Practice

Date

1998
1998-05

Description

BACKGROUND. The content and context of family practice outpatient visits have never been fully described, leaving many aspects of family practice in a "black box," unseen by policymakers and understood only in isolation. This article describes community family practices, physicians, patients, and outpatient visits. METHODS. Practicing family physicians in northeast Ohio were invited to participate in a multimethod study of the content of primary care practice. Research nurses directly observed consecutive patient visits, and collected additional data using medical record reviews, patient and physician questionnaires, billing data, practice environment checklists, and ethnographic fieldnotes. RESULTS. Visits by 4454 patients seeing 138 physicians in 84 practices were observed. Outpatient visits to family physicians encompassed a wide variety of patients, problems, and levels of complexity. The average patient paid 4.3 visits to the practice within the past year. The mean visit duration was 10 minutes. Fifty-eight percent of visits were for acute illness, 24% for chronic illness, and 12% for well care. The most common uses of time were history-taking, planning treatment, physical examination, health education, feedback, family information, chatting, structuring the interaction, and patient questions. CONCLUSIONS. Family practice and patient visits are complex, with competing demands and opportunities to address a wide range of problems of individuals and families over time and at various stages of health and illness. Multimethod research in practice settings can identify ways to enhance the competing opportunities of family practice to improve the health of their patients.

Subject

cost; family; family practice; General & Internal Medicine; health-care system; managed care; medical outcomes; physician's practice patterns; physicians; physicians' offices; preventive health services; trends

Identifier

n/a

Format

Journal Article

URL Address

n/a

Search for Full-text

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Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Pages

377-389

Issue

5

Volume

46

Citation

Stange K C; Zyzanski S J; Jaen C R; Callahan E J; Kelly R B; Gillanders W R; Shank J C; Chao J; Medalie J H; Miller W L; Crabtree B F; Flocke S A; Gilchrist V J; Langa D M; Goodwin M A, “Illuminating the 'black box' - A description of 4454 patient visits to 138 family physicians,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed October 24, 2021, https://neomed.omeka.net/items/show/8082.

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