Mid 1990s Surveys Measure Attitudes Toward Primary Care in the Medical Professions - An Issue of Importance to RWJF

    • July 1, 2002

From 1993 through 1997, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Inc., designed, conducted and analyzed two rounds of the Attitudes and Choices in Medical Education and Training survey, which assesses attitudes among medical students, residents, faculty and administration toward primary care.

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

Key Findings

  • Key findings of the 1993–1994 survey, which polled some 3,085 respondents, included the following:

    • Perceived attitudes and beliefs toward primary care among all groups of respondents were largely negative.
    • Only 26.2 percent of first-year students, 30.8 percent of fourth-year students and 27.1 percent of residents planned primary care careers.
    • Less than 16 percent of fourth-year students and residents reported faculty and peer encouragement to enter primary care.
  • The 1997 survey, which included 2,164 respondents, showed observable improvements in the culture for primary care in US academic health centers.

    • More faculty reported that they encouraged students and residents to enter primary care fields than in 1994.
    • Faculty rated research conducted by primary care physicians as good as or better than that conducted by specialists.