Why do rural primary care physicians sell their practices?

Jeffrey Stensland, Michelle Brasure, Ira Moscovice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This study evaluates why rural primary care physicians sell their practices. A random sample of rural primary care practices in California, Utah, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia were surveyed to investigate changes in ownership of the practices during the period 1995-1998. These five states were selected because they represent areas with different experiences with physician-hospital integration and varied rates of managed care penetration. A series of logistic regressions were conducted to examine the factors that led independent physicians to sell their practices to either nonlocal buyers, local hospitals, or local physicians. Findings suggest that sales to nonlocal buyers represent the majority of practice ownership changes. The motivations for ceding control to nonlocal buyers center on managed care concerns, recruitment concerns, and administrative burdens. Sellers were also concerned about their level of net income prior to being acquired. However, the preacquisition financial concerns of sellers were not significantly stronger than the financial concerns of practices that remained independent. The environmental conditions that motivate rural physicians to sell their practices are not expected to improve. Therefore, additional sales of rural primary care practices to nonlocal buyers are expected. Further research is necessary to determine whether this shift in control will lead to changes in the quality or accessibility of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-108
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


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