The Public's View of Physicians' Assistants and Nurse Practitioners: A Survey of Baltimore Urban Residents

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This study of public attitudes toward physicians' assistants and nurse practitioners finds that the public regards the two groups of health workers as remarkably similar. A telephone survey of 2,583 households in the Baltimore, Maryland, metropolitan area indicates that about half the population have heard of a PA or NP, though only 4 per cent report receiving care from such workers. In this urban sample, respondents accepted the principle that important medical care functions can be delegated, as long as the PA or NP is considered assistant to the physician. The public reported more acceptance of tasks performed by nurse practitioners than by physicians' assistants, though the differences are small.

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