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Three out of four women physicians give high marks for the quality of health care they receive

Three-fourths of women physicians believe that the quality of health care they receive is at least very good, and very few rate it as only fair or poor. Yet the majority do not believe the quality of care they receive is excellent. Women physicians are highly qualified to assess care and are capable of demanding high-quality care, and most physicians caring for a colleague would make a special effort to provide the best care. Thus, there is clearly room for improvement in women's health care, concludes a study by Erica Frank, M.D., M.P.H., of Emory University School of Medicine, and Carolyn Clancy, M.D., of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research.

Drs. Frank and Clancy analyzed data from the Women Physician's Health Study, a survey of a nationally representative sample of 4,501 U.S. women physicians who graduated from medical school between 1950 and 1989. Of these, 39 percent thought the health care they personally received was excellent, 37 percent considered it to be very good, 19 percent good, 4 percent fair, and 1 percent judged their health care to be poor quality. Women physicians with an obstetrician/gynecologist as their regular physician were most likely to judge their health care quality as excellent. Those with more continuing medical education—and thus probably best able to judge current standards of care—were least impressed by the care they received.

Physicians who were most satisfied with their careers and who practiced in suburban areas were more likely to give high ratings to the quality of their personal health care. Women physicians who were less likely to rate their health care quality as excellent practiced in rural or in Government sites, were older, belonged to an ethnic/minority group or were born outside the United States, were more physically or mentally ill, or had no regular personal physician.

See "U.S. women physicians' assessment of the quality of healthcare they receive," by Drs. Frank and Clancy, in the January/February 1999 Journal of Women's Health 8(1), pp. 1-8. Reprints (AHCPR Publication No. 99-R048) are available from the AHCPR Publications Clearinghouse.

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