Access to Quality Primary Care Reduces Mortality Risk

Key quality attributes include comprehensiveness, patient-centeredness, and extended hours

MONDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Greater access to high-quality primary medical care that includes features of comprehensiveness, patient-centeredness, and extended office hours is associated with a reduced risk of death, according to a study published in the January/February issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Anthony Jerant, M.D., of the University of California Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento, and colleagues analyzed data from 52,241 respondents (aged 18 to 90 years) to the 2000 to 2005 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. A score was calculated based on five yes/no items that evaluated whether the respondent's usual source of care was comprehensive, patient-centered, and had enhanced access. Scores ranged from zero to one, with a higher score indicating more attributes. During six years of follow-up, the association between the primary care attributes score and mortality was evaluated.

The researchers found that less access to primary care attributes was reported by racial and ethnic minorities, people of lower socioeconomic means, those without private insurance, healthier people, and residents of regions outside the Northeast. There was an inverse association between the primary care attributes score and mortality (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.79; P = 0.03). Mortality decreased linearly with increasing score.

"Greater reported patient access to selected primary care attributes was associated with lower mortality," the authors write. "The findings support the current interest in ensuring that patients have access to a medical home encompassing these attributes."

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