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Characterizing and Fostering Charity Care in the Surgeon Workforce

Wright, D. Brad PhD (Cand.)*; Scarborough, John E. MD

doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e31821970e9
Original Articles

Objective: We sought to determine which demographic and practice characteristics are associated with both a surgeon's willingness to provide any charity care as well as the amount of charity care provided.

Background: Although it is known that surgeons tend to provide a greater amount of charity care than other physicians, no studies have attempted to look within the surgeon population to identify which factors lead some surgeons to provide more charity care than others.

Methods: Using 4 rounds of data from the Community Tracking Study, we employ a 2-part multivariate regression model with fixed effects.

Results: A greater amount of charity care is provided by surgeons who are male, practice owners, employed in academic medical centers, or earn a greater proportion of their revenue from Medicaid. Surgeons who work in a group HMO are significantly less likely to provide any charity care. Personal resources (eg, time and money) had a minimal association with charity care provision.

Conclusions: Surgeons whose characteristics are associated with a greater propensity for charity care provision as suggested by this study, should be considered as a potential source for building the volunteer workforce.

*Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.

Department of Surgery/Division of General Surgery, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC.

Reprints: D. Brad Wright, Ph.D. (Cand.), Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 725 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., CB #7590, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7590. E-mail:

Supported in part by the American College of Surgeons Health Policy Research Institute and in part by a National Research Service Award Pre-Doctoral Traineeship from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality sponsored by the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Grant No. T32-HS000032.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.