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HOME > Korean J Prev Med > Volume 26(4); 1993 > Article
Original Article A study on the practice variations according to physician characteristics.
Eun Kyeong Jeong, Ok Ryun Moon, Chang Yup Kim
Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 1993;26(4):614-627
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1School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Korea.
2Department of Health Policy and Management, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, Korea.

It is well known that a physician's personal characteristic affects his practice pattern. Furthermore, a physician's specialty has powerful influences on his practice pattern. However, despite the fact specialization has received the most attention for its influence on physician's service behavior, few studies have been conducted on the variations of contents and volume of physician's services. This study has intended to identify factors influencing the practice variations according to various physician characteristics. There are some other evidences that medical care providers are different in using of health services and resources in Korea. Four physician characteristics were selected for the analysis, two demographical factors, age and sex, and two practice factors, place of practice and medical specialty. Also, three indicators of service amount(total amount of insurance claim bill, number of visits per case, number of prescriptions per case) were selected. From the pool of insurance claims for ambulatory care received by the Korean National Federation of Medical Insurance(NFMI), 84,898 cases were randomly sampled. In the meantime using physician database of NFMI, 613 general practitioners(GP), 107 regular family physicians(FP), 483 'grandfather' family physicians(GFP), and 1,157 specialist practitioners(SP) were randomly sampled. Their different practice contents were compared concerning the specialty, age groups, sex, and practice sites(urban-rural). Specialist physicians tend to provide more costly care than do generalists. General practitioners and family physicians usually make fewer following visits and prescriptions. Age is also the important factor in determining the amount of services, which is highest at the physician's age group of 40's. Female doctors and urban practitioners use much more resources than their counterparts respectively. Research findings suggest that physician's characteristics particularly the specialty can affect practice patterns and resource utilizations. Other characteristics such as age and sex are not controllable but physician's specialty is relatively easily controllable during the entire phases of policy implementation. This is all the more true in the individual's initial decision of his specialty. Specialization therefore should receive policymaker's attention for its potential influence on medical care utilization and health care expenditure.

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