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A National Survey of Practice Patterns of Gastroenterologists With Comparison to the Past Two Decades

Russo, Mark W., M.D., M.P.H.; Gaynes, Bradley N., M.D., M.P.H.; Drossman, Douglas A., M.D.

Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: December 1999 - Volume 29 - Issue 4 - p 339-343
Clinical Research

Previous surveys on the practice of gastroenterology collected limited data on practice demographics. Gastroenterology practices may have changed over the past decade as a result of changes in health care delivery. The authors sought to describe the practice composition and demographics of today's gastroenterologist, and also to make comparisons to prior studies to determine whether changes have occurred. A nationwide cross-sectional survey was performed in 1997 of 900 American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) members selected randomly from the AGA directory. A total of 767 AGA members were eligible for the study, and 376 responded (response rate, 49%). The mean age was 46 years old and the mean year training was completed was 1982. The majority of gastroenterologists were in solo or group practice (57%) and in an urban setting (55%). Respondents were fairly equally represented from different regions of the country. The most common diagnosis seen was irritable bowel syndrome ([IBS] 19%), followed by esophageal reflux (17%) and inflammatory bowel disease (14%). Functional disorders as a group (IBS, nonulcer dyspepsia, and other functional disorders) were, by far, the most common disorders (35%), which is similar to findings in prior studies of gastrointestinal practices. Only 3% of gastroenterologists believed that managed care has made it easier to deliver quality health care to patients with IBS. Despite changes that have occurred in health care over the past decade, the types of diagnoses seen in gastroenterology practices has remained the same. Most gastroenterologists feel that managed care has not made it easier to deliver quality health care.

From the Departments of Medicine (M.W.R., D.A.D.) and Psychiatry (B.N.G., D.A.D.), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.

Supported by the National Institutes of Health grant no. DK-34987 (M.W.R.) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation while Dr. Gaynes was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Mark W. Russo, Cornell Medical Center-New York Hospital, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 525 East 68th Street, Room F231, New York, NY 10021.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.