The relationship between primary care and life chances

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 1992 Fall;3(2):321-35. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2010.0460.


Many researchers criticize clinical medicine for its failure to improve mortality rates. But in their critiques, few distinguish primary care from expensive, high-technology specialized care. This research is concerned with the empirical relationship between the availability of health services resources (i.e., primary care, specialty care, hospital beds) and certain "life chances," as measured by overall and disease-specific mortality rates, and life expectancy. The model shows a significant direct association between primary care and favorable mortality outcomes, though the same does not hold true for variables such as hospital beds or physician specialists. There should be greater emphasis on prevention-oriented primary care as a mechanism for health improvement and cost control.

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death
  • Economics, Medical
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Research / methods
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Workforce
  • Humans
  • Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Mortality*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Primary Health Care / economics
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Specialization
  • United States / epidemiology