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Books, Journals, New Media
August 4, 1999

Primary Care: Primary Care: Balancing Health Needs, Services, and Technology

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


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by Barbara Starfield, 438 pp, with illus, $49.95, ISBN 0-19-512542-8, paper, $27.50, ISBN 0-19-512543-6, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 1998.

JAMA. 1999;282(5):492. doi:10.1001/jama.282.5.492-JBK0804-2-1

In the storm-tossed waters of medical care, we search for markers to help us find the way. A number of these conceptual beacons recur across time and place repeatedly through the century: the power of science and technology to combat disease and improve human life, the moral imperative to provide the yields of medical science to all citizens, and the practical need to accomplish all of this without totally depleting communal resources.

One of the organizing principles that has emerged to help reconcile these sometimes warring objectives has been primary care. Primary care is built upon the notion that the health care system rests on the foundation of a relationship between a generalist health care professional and an individual patient, a relationship that exists over time within the context of families and communities.