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Open Access Research article

Explaining the de-prioritization of primary prevention: Physicians' perceptions of their role in the delivery of primary care

Amy L Mirand1*, Gregory P Beehler2, Christina L Kuo3 and Martin C Mahoney14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, USA

2 Department of Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA

3 Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA

4 Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA

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BMC Public Health 2003, 3:15  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-3-15

Published: 2 May 2003

Abstract

Background

While physicians are key to primary preventive care, their delivery rate is sub-optimal. Assessment of physician beliefs is integral to understanding current behavior and the conceptualization of strategies to increase delivery.

Methods

A focus group with regional primary care physician (PCP) Opinion Leaders was conducted as a formative step towards regional assessment of attitudes and barriers regarding preventive care delivery in primary care. Following the PRECEDE-PROCEED model, the focus group aim was to identify conceptual themes that characterize PCP beliefs and practices regarding preventive care. Seven male and five female PCPs (family medicine, internal medicine) participated in the audiotaped discussion of their perceptions and behaviors in delivery of primary preventive care. The transcribed audiotape was qualitatively analyzed using grounded theory methodology.

Results

The PCPs' own perceived role in daily practice was a significant barrier to primary preventive care. The prevailing PCP model was the "one-stop-shop" physician who could provide anything from primary to tertiary care, but whose provision was dominated by the delivery of immediate diagnoses and treatments, namely secondary care.

Conclusions

The secondary-tertiary prevention PCP model sustained the expectation of immediacy of corrective action, cure, and satisfaction sought by patients and physicians alike, and, thereby, de-prioritized primary prevention in practice. Multiple barriers beyond the immediate control of PCP must be surmounted for the full integration of primary prevention in primary care practice. However, independent of other barriers, physician cognitive value of primary prevention in practice, a base mediator of physician behavior, will need to be increased to frame the likelihood of such integration.