HealthDay News—From 2005 to 2015, there was a decrease in primary care physician supply per capita in the United States, with increased supply associated with lower mortality, according to a study published online Feb 18 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Sanjay Basu, MD, PhD, from Stanford University in California, and colleagues conducted an epidemiological study to identify primary care physician supply changes across US counties from 2005 to 2015. The correlation between primary care physician supply and changes in life expectancy and cause-specific mortality was examined using data from 3142 counties, 7144 primary care service areas, and 306 hospital referral regions.

The researchers found that from 2005 to 2015, there was an increase in primary care physician supply, from 196,014 to 204,419. Relative to population size, however, there was a decrease in the mean density of primary care physicians, from 46.6 to 41.4 per 100,000 population, with greater losses in rural areas. In adjusted mixed-effects regressions, every 10 additional primary care physicians per 100,000 population correlated with a 51.5-day increase in life expectancy, while an increase of 10 specialist physicians correlated with a 19.2-day increase. Ten additional primary care physicians per 100,000 population correlated with reductions of 0.9% to 1.4% in cardiovascular, cancer, and respiratory mortality.

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“The decrease in primary care physician supply across US counties from 2005 to 2015 may have important population health implications,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Bicycle Health.

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