Comparing Generalists vs. Specialists Shows No Difference in Practice Style

Research to compare practice styles of generalists and specialists

A research team at Dartmouth Medical School conducted a study to compare the practice styles of generalist and specialist physicians.

Specifically, they assessed whether generalists and specialists differed in the resources deployed to treat illnesses and their responses to financial incentives.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program, Generalist Provider Research Initiative.

Key Findings

  • The key findings reported in an article in Health Services Research included:

    • Practice setting, rather than specialty, was a key determinant of resource use, and HMO care generally tended to incur lower expenditures.
    • There was no evidence that financial incentives influenced either type of physician to treat patients differently.
    • The specialty of the physician of first contact was the principal determinant of the level of expenditures incurred in treating a given patient.