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Primary Care Practitioners’ Understanding of Physiatric Practice: Effects on Intention to Refer

      Abstract

      McKenna C, Farber NJ, Eschbach KS, Collier VU. Primary care practitioners’ understanding of physiatric practice: effects on intention to refer.

      Objectives

      To learn what family practice and internal medicine physicians understand about the scope of practice of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) and to study what effect that understanding and various demographic variables have on their intention to refer to physiatrists.

      Design

      Survey-based.

      Setting

      National survey.

      Participants

      One thousand internal medicine and family practice physicians were contacted, with 460 respondents.

      Interventions

      Not applicable.

      Main outcome measures

      Intention to refer patients to physiatrists using 13 case scenarios (10 appropriate referrals, 4 inappropriate referrals) and self-reported number of referrals per year associated with understanding of 7 skills of physiatrists analyzed by multiple logistic regression analyses.

      Results

      Although most respondents were likely to refer to physiatrists, a wide variation existed in the types of patients referred. Physicians with a greater understanding of the scope of physiatric practice were more likely to refer (P=.003). Female physicians were more likely to refer than male physicians (P=.003).

      Conclusions

      There appears to be an association between an understanding of physiatric practice and primary care practitioners’ willingness to refer to PM&R. Primary care physicians should be educated about the benefits of referring patients to physiatrists.

      Key words

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