Fragmentation of Patient Care Between Chiropractors and Family Physicians
Arch G. Mainous III, PhD;
James M. Gill, MD, MPH;
James S. Zoller, PhD;
Maggie G. Wolman
Arch Fam Med. 2000;9:446-450.
Background Most patients using alternative practitioners also receive care from physicians. It is unclear, however, how well alternative practitioners and physicians communicate and coordinate the care of shared patients.
Objective To describe the communication and coordination of care for shared patients between chiropractors and family physicians as well as potential barriers to effectively sharing care.
Design, Setting, and Participants A cross-sectional national random sample survey of 400 chiropractors and 400 family physicians.
Main Outcome Measures Reports on shared patients including information on adverse events, treatment, and health status. Attitudes toward perceived expertise as well as perceived liability and economic competition involved in sharing care were also assessed.
Results Surveys were completed by 360 (49%) of the 736 eligible practitioners, including 227 chiropractors and 133 family physicians. Although a high degree of interaction occurs between the practitioners, family physicians received information from chiropractors on 26.5% of referred patients while chiropractors received information from family physicians in 25.0% of cases (P=.73). Both groups believed that they did not receive enough information on adverse health outcomes or treatment plans for shared patients. Although neither group was particularly oriented toward wanting to share care, family physicians were much less likely than chiropractors to feel comfortable sharing care (P<.001).
Conclusions These findings indicate that care is fragmented between chiropractors and the general medical sector, with little information communicated between health care providers on issues with critical importance to quality of care. Further study is needed to identify ways to improve communication and coordination of care.
From the Department of Family Medicine (Dr Mainous and Ms Wolman) and Center for Health Care Research (Drs Mainous and Zoller), Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston; and the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del (Dr Gill).
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