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November 1990

The Influence of Physician Specialty on Housecalls

Author Affiliations

From the Divisions of Geriatric Medicine and General Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical College of Virginia (Drs Boling, Retchin, and Pancoast), and Survey Research Laboratory (Mr Ellis), Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(11):2333-2337. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390220075015

• Despite growing numbers of frail elderly, physicians make housecalls infrequently. We surveyed 1000 primary care physicians from Virginia regarding their attitudes and knowledge about housecalls, and 389 completed questionnaires (response rate, 52%): 185 family physicians, 36 general practitioners, 101 general internists, and 63 subspecialists. Despite similar proportions of homebound patients and practice demographics, family physicians (69%) and general practitioners (63%) were significantly more likely than either internists (53%) or subspecialists (37%) to make routine housecalls. Although all four groups thought the fee was rarely a motivation, internists and subspecialists suggested larger increases. Also, internists and subspecialists were less likely than family physicians or general practitioners to increase housecalls with increased payment. Internists and subspecialists also were more likely than family physicians or general practitioners to report that housecalls were often unnecessary, not "enjoyable," "inefficient," and unimportant. While improved reimbursement may lead to increased housecalls by family physicians, future strategies should include efforts to change internists' attitudes.

(Arch Intern Med. 1990;150:2333-2337)