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April 12, 1971

A Study of General Practice In Massachusetts

Author Affiliations

From the Family Health Care Program, Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School and the Children's Hospital Medical Center, Boston, and the Collaborative Research Committee, Massachusetts Chapter, Academy of General Practice.

JAMA. 1971;216(2):301-306. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03180280055010

A study of 12,835 patient visits to 15 Massachusetts practitioners indicated that while illness was the reason for 75% of the visits, nonsickness was the most common diagnosis recorded by the physician, accounting for almost 25% of the diagnoses. Fifty-two percent of the sick patients had multiple diagnoses and 20% raised additional problems about other family members. Visits were coded using the International Classification of Disease (ICD). The ICD was intended primarily as a classification of hospital patients and proved inadequate for classifying primary care. There was a correlation between the physician's age and that of his patients with the youngest physicians having the higher percentage of younger patients. The study findings suggest that some tasks proposed for the new family physician are being accomplished although none of the participating physicians were specifically trained for family medicine. The future family physician will almost certainly require different training if he is to effectively respond to the needs of his patients.