Rural and urban differences in physician resource use for low-risk obstetrics

  • Abstract


    To explore the hypothesis that rural obstetricians (OBs) and family physicians (FPs) utilized fewer resources during the care of the low-risk women who initially booked with them than did their urban counterparts of the same specialties.


    A stratified random sample of Washington state rural and urban OBs and FPs was selected during 1989. A participation rate of 89 percent yielded 209 participating physicians. The prenatal and intrapartum medical records of a random sample of the low-risk patients who initiated care with the sampled providers during a one-year period were abstracted in detail and analyzed with the physician as the unit of analysis. Complete data for 1,683 patients were collected. Resource use elements (e.g., urine culture) were combined by standardizing them with average charge data so that aggregate resource use could be analyzed. Intraspecialty comparisons for resource use by category and overall were performed.


    Results show that rural physicians use fewer overall resources in caring for nonreferred low-risk-booking obstetric patients than do their urban colleagues. Resource use unit expenditures showed the hypothesized pattern for both specialties for total, intrapartum, and prenatal care with the exception of FPs for prenatal care. Approximately 80 percent of the resource units used by each physician type were related to hospital care. No differences were shown in patterns of care for most clinically important aspects of care (e.g., cesarean delivery rates), and no evidence suggested that outcomes differed. The overall differences were due to specific components of care (e.g., fewer intrapartum hospital days and less epidural anesthesia).

  • Authors:

    Hart LG, Dobie SA, Baldwin LM, Pirani MJ, Fordyce M, Rosenblatt RA

  • Journal/Publisher:

    Health Serv Res

  • Edition:

    Oct 1996. 31(4):429-452

  • Link to Article

    Access the article here: Health Serv Res

  • Citation:

    Hart LG, Dobie SA, Baldwin LM, Pirani MJ, Fordyce M, Rosenblatt RA. Rural And Urban Differences In Physician Resource Use For Low-risk Obstetrics. Health Serv Res. Oct 1996 31(4):429-452

  • Related Studies:

    Low-Risk Obstetric Care Resource Use