Adoption of Health Promotion Practices in a Cohort of US Physician Organizations

An exploration of physician organizations’ administrative changes and changes in health promotion practices found that physician organizations employ no standard set of health promotion practices, and that health promotion practices and organizational structure evolve over time.

The authors conducted two rounds of the National Study of Physician Organizations (NSPO) from September 2000 to September 2001 and from March 2006 to March 2007, surveying 369 physician organizations. Each organization was asked about health risk assessments, patient reminders and nine health promotion practices. The authors used paired-sample t tests to identify changes in the organizations’ characteristics.

Between 2000 to 2001 and 2006 to 2007, the physician organizations studied grew larger, more profitable, more likely to use electronic information technology and were more likely to be physician-owned. In those same years, the organizations increased their use of health risk assessments to contact high-risk patients and reminders for eye exams for diabetic patients, but decreased use of nutrition and weight-loss programs. Changes in the organizations’ programming likely result from changing regulatory environments, market conditions, populations and health promotion technologies. Incentives and regulations in the future should encourage physician organizations to adopt health promotion practices.

All organizations studied had over 20 physicians and lasted from 2000 to 2001 and 2006 to 2007; the results are therefore not generalizeable to smaller organizations or those established after 2001.