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Women's Health

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Younger women are more satisfied with their health care when a reproductive health specialist is their primary provider

Most women visit generalist physicians for some or all of their primary health care, and a large proportion of them pair this provider with an obstetrician/gynecologist (ob/gyn). A less common pattern is seeing a reproductive health specialist (either an ob/gyn or a Certified Nurse Midwife) as their sole regular provider of primary care. Younger women who use a reproductive health specialist as their sole provider are more satisfied with their health care coordination and completeness than women who use both a generalist physician and an ob/gyn, according to a study supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS10237).

Jillian T. Henderson, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of California, San Francisco, and Carol S. Weisman, Ph.D., of the Penn State College of Medicine, surveyed a sample of 1,197 women aged 18 to 87 who made primary health care visits in 2001. Women aged 18 to 34 were more satisfied with health care coordination and comprehensiveness when their regular provider was a reproductive health specialist, primarily an ob/gyn.

The odds of satisfaction for these young women were reduced by 62 percent when they had a generalist physician as a regular provider, 53 percent with a generalist as a regular provider plus an ob/gyn, and 48 percent when they had no regular provider. The pattern of regular provider use was not significantly associated with satisfaction for women in other age categories.

See "Women's patterns of provider use across the lifespan and satisfaction with primary care coordination and comprehensiveness," by Drs. Henderson and Weisman, in the August 2005 Medical Care 43(8), pp. 826-833.

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