Variation in physicians' recommendations about revisit interval for three common conditions

Journal Name: 
BACKGROUND: The appropriate revisit interval for most conditions is uncertain. This survey was done to gather information about physicians' recommendations on revisit intervals for three common conditions. METHODS: Data were gathered in a mailed survey of 116 primary care physicians in the University of California at San Francisco Collaborative Research Network. Physicians were given descriptions of three hypothetical patients, one with diabetes mellitus, one with angina, and one with hypertension, and were asked when they would recommend a follow-up visit for the condition. RESULTS: There were great variations in physicians' recommendations about revisit intervals for each hypothetical patient. Internists were significantly more likely than family physicians to recommend a longer revisit interval for the hypothetical patient with diabetes mellitus; a similar revisit pattern was found for the patient with hypertension. There were no significant associations with recommended revisit interval and many other physician characteristics. CONCLUSIONS: As interest in containing the cost and improving the efficiency of medical care increases, knowing how often patients ought to be seen will be a topic of increasing importance. A rational, information-based approach to the choice of revisit interval for common conditions could yield substantial savings in medical care costs. The existence of great variation in recommended revisit interval suggests that physicians are uncertain about what interval is best
Aged, Angina Pectoris, Appointments and Schedules, California, Chronic Disease, community, cost, Diabetes, Diabetes Mellitus, Efficiency, Family, Family Practice, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Hypertension, information, Internal Medicine, Male, medical, Medicare, Medicine, Methods, Middle Aged, Office Visits, patient, Patients, Physician's Practice Patterns, Physicians, Practice Guidelines as Topic, primary care, Research, Research Support, San Francisco, statistics & numerical data, support, survey, therapy, United States, Universities