Primary Care Physician Supply Associated With Population Mortality

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a greater number of primary care physicians per capita was associated with improved life expectancy, suggesting that physician supply has an important effect on population health.

The investigators of this observational study sought to identify changes in primary care physician supply at the local level and to examine associations between population-level physician supply and mortality across US counties between 2005 and 2015.

The study investigators obtained population counts from the US Census Bureau and data on primary care physician counts from the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile for the years 2005, 2010, and 2015. The primary and secondary outcomes of age-adjusted life expectancy and cause-specific mortality, respectively, were estimated using US population and individual-level claims data for the years 2005, 2010, and 2014. For the present study, cause of death was divided into 5 major categories: cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious diseases, respiratory tract diseases, and substance use or injury. In analyzing the association between physician supply and population-level mortality, adjustments were made for potential confounders relating to health care, demographic and socioeconomic factors, and patient behaviors

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