Background: Our goal was to compare the demographic features, diagnoses, and procedures in civilian and military ambulatory internal medicine clinics.
Methods: One year (September 1996 to August 1997) of data from the Ambulatory Data System of the Adult Primary Care Clinic at Madigan Army Medical Center was extracted and compared with the most recent (1995) National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.
Results: A total of 41,374 Madigan patient encounters were compared with civilian data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. The age distribution was similar, with military patients averaging 53.5 years of age and civilian patients averaging 54.5 years. Military patients were more likely to be female (71 vs. 60%) and were more ethnically diverse (military: 68% white, 17% African American, 7% Hispanic, 7% Asian American, and 1% Native American; civilian: 78% white, 10% African American, 6% Hispanic, 5.9% Asian American, and 0.3% Native American). There were similar rank orderings of the top 189 diagnostic groups seen in each setting (Spearman's rho = 0.87). There were also no differences in the type or rank order of procedures performed between military and civilian internists (p = 0.53).
Conclusion: The practice content of military and civilian practices appears to be more similar than different.