'Common Sense and a Thick Hide'
Physicians Providing Care to Their Own Family Members
Bonnie Reagan, MD;
Peter Reagan, MD;
Ann Sinclair, MS
Arch Fam Med. 1994;3(7):599-604.
To determine how frequently physicians treat their relatives in 17 categories of care, their reasons for deciding to treat, and their level of comfort with this practice.
Rural, suburban, and urban practices in Oregon.
Two thousand fourteen physicians in the following specialties: general practice, family practice, general internal medicine, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, obstetrics/gynecology, and pediatric medicine.
One thousand two hundred ninety-two questionnaires (64%) were returned. Minor prescribing was done most frequently, followed by routine pediatric care, physical examinations, and minor surgery. All other forms of care occurred rarely, and there appears to be a gradient based on the level of complexity, seriousness, and potential for conflict with privacy. In general, older, male, and rural physicians provided more services to family members than their younger, female, and urban counterparts. General and family practitioners performed the most family care; general internists, the least. The most important reasons for providing care were convenience for the patient and request from relatives. Providers were most comfortable providing care to their children and least comfortable providing care to their grandparents.
There is a wide range of practice, depending on the nature of the care and provider characteristics. Physicians report treating their own family members rarely and face significant dilemmas when doing so.
From Portland (Ore) Family Practice (Drs B. Reagan and P. Reagan), and the Department of Family Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland (Ms Sinclair).
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