Public Attitudes toward Some Changes in the Division of Labor in Medicine

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Abstract

This study examined public attitudes toward the delegation of medical tasks to nonphysician health workers. Data were obtained in household interviews of a probability sample of the adult residents of Cuyahoga County, Ohio (N = 808). The proportions of the sample giving approval to care from nonphysicians varied widely among the 18 tasks on which opinions were elicited. The results of the public survey were compared to those from an earlier national survey of physicians. Physicians' responses paralleled the responses of the lay public regarding most tasks. However, with respect to regular checkups on babies and prenatal checkups, markedly higher proportions of the physicians than the public were willing to delegate to nonphysicians. The analysis indicated that public attitudes toward task delegation in medical practice do not bear strong relationships to social status indicators, political self-designations, or preceived health status.

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