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VOLUME 47 | NUMBER 3 | JUNE 2012


Prevalence, Predictors, and Patient Outcomes Associated with Physician Co-management: Findings from the Los Angeles Women's Health Study

Keywords: Quality of care;physician practice style;physician co-management;patient ratings of care;breast cancer care;provider network restrictions

Background: Physician co-management, representing joint participation in the planning, decision-making, and delivery of care, is often cited in association with coordination of care. Yet little is known about how physicians manage tasks and how their management style impacts patient outcomes.

Objective: To describe physician practice style using breast cancer as a model. We characterize correlates and predictors of physician practice style for 10 clinical tasks, and then test for associations between physician practice style and patient ratings of care.

Methods: We queried 347 breast cancer physicians identified by a population-based cohort of women with incident breast cancer regarding care using a clinical vignette about a hypothetical 65-year-old diabetic woman with incident breast cancer. To test the association between physician practice style and patient outcomes, we linked medical oncologists’ responses to patient ratings of care (physician n = 111; patient n = 411).

Results: After adjusting for physician and practice setting characteristics, physician practice style varied by physician specialty, practice setting, financial incentives, and barriers to referrals. Patients with medical oncologists who co-managed tasks had higher patient ratings of care.

Conclusions: Physician practice style for breast cancer is influenced by provider and practice setting characteristics, and it is an important predictor of patient ratings. We identify physician and practice setting factors associated with physician practice style and found associations between physician co-management and patient outcomes (e.g., patient ratings of care).

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