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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


LOPEZ, L.A. et al. Opinions of primary care managers on sources of influence on medical practice: Differences with physicians' opinions. Gac Sanit [online]. 2002, vol.16, n.5, pp.417-424. ISSN 0213-9111.

Objectives: To determine the opinion of primary healthcare managers on the importance and legitimacy of different sources of influence in medical practice, and to compare the results with the opinions of physicians in healthcare teams. Material and methods: Design: cross-sectional study. Population: primary healthcare managers in the Spanish public health system (area managers, medical and nursing directors) and in the Andalusian health service (district director, nursing coordinators and epidemiology and program coordinators). The sample comprised the total population of 302. As dependent variables, a series of questions was designed to gather the interviewees' opinions on different strategies, institutions and/or collectives that exert some kind of influence on medical practice. The degree of «importance» of each factor was summarized into a set of 9 items. The subjects were asked to score each item from 1 (most important) to 9 (least important). To assess the «legitimacy» of these scores, 16 items were presented measured using a Likert-type 7-point scale (1: not at all legitimate; 7: very legitimate). A self-administered questionnaire was used, sent by mail. Non-parametric tests (Friedman and Kruskall-Wallis) were used for statistical analysis of the data. Results: The response rate was 79.8%. Using the Friedman test for an ordinal 9-point scale, analysis of the mean ranges for each item revealed that the most important sources of influence for the primary healthcare managers interviewed were: the devising of management protocols by the doctors themselves; discussion with colleagues; feedback from patients, and attending training courses, and reading articles and scientific journals. The institutions or groups with the greatest legitimacy to influence medical practice were: users or citizens; internal audits; peers; scientific associations, and the managers themselves. Conclusions: The sources of influence considered to have the greatest importance and legitimacy in influencing medical practice concern the «professional medical system» (self-defined protocols, discussion with colleagues, etc.). Managers accept the use of business managerial tools as well as the influence of social actors to a greater extent than do physicians. This finding could indicate differences in the value systems between primary healthcare physicians and managers.

Keywords : Medical practice patterns; Primary healthcare; Variations in medical practice; Health management.

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