Who is the family doctor? Relating primary care to family care

P. J. Murata, R. L. Kane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Many families receive care as intact family units. To determine which specialists provide this family care, a subset of families (N = 447) enrolled in the Rand Health Insurance Experiment were examined. Among families designating a single primary care physician, family physicians and general practitioners provided 65.9% to 89.7% of their family care. Internists provided 20.0% and 27.3% of family care for younger and older couples, respectively. The remaining specialties, including pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology, each provided less than 5% of family care; these small proportions of family care may reflect the specialists' self-imposed limits in primary care roles. As family members matured, families used fewer pediatricians and obstetrician-gynecologists for primary care and concurrently increased their use of family physicians or general practitioners. Care for intact families is provided predominantly by family physicians or general practitioners, although in families without children, internists also play an important role. Self-defined limits in primary care roles by physicians in various specialties and the changing use of specialties during the family life cycle largely determined which specialties provided family care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-304
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Family Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1989


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