Utilization of primary care physicians by medical residents: A survey-based study

Karina Z. Whelan, Kathryn Levy, Jessica H. Voit, Angelico N. Razon, Vineet Chopra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Existing research has demonstrated overall low rates of residents establishing care with a primary care physician (PCP). We conducted a survey-based study to better understand chronic illness, PCP utilization, and prescription medication use patterns in resident physician populations. Methods: In 2017, we invited internal and family medicine trainees from a convenience sample of U.S. residency programs to participate in a survey. We compared the characteristics of residents who had established care with a PCP to those who had not. Results: The response rate was 45% (348/766 residents). The majority (n = 205, 59%) of respondents stated they had established care with a PCP primarily for routine preventative care (n = 159, 79%) and access in the event of an emergency (n = 132, 66%). However, 31% (n = 103) denied having had a wellness visit in over 3 years. Nearly a quarter of residents (n = 77, 23%) reported a chronic medical illness and 14% (n = 45) reported a preexisting mental health condition prior to residency. One-third (n = 111, 33%) reported taking a long-term prescription medication. Compared to residents who had not established care, those with a PCP (n = 205) more often reported a chronic condition (P < 0.001), seeing a subspecialist (P = 0.01), or taking long-term prescription medications (P < 0.001). One in 5 (n = 62,19%) respondents reported receiving prescriptions for an acute illness from an individual with whom they did not have a doctor-patient relationship. Conclusion: Medical residents have a substantial burden of chronic illness that may not be met through interactions with PCPs. Further understanding their medical needs and barriers to accessing care is necessary to ensure trainee well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-366
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Outcomes Management
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Access to care
  • Medical education-graduate
  • Physician behavior
  • Survey research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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