Background: Combined medicine-pediatrics (med-peds) training has existed for 40 years, yet little is known about national med-peds practices. A more comprehensive understanding of med-peds practices is important to inform medical students and guide evolving curricula and accreditation standards.
Method: The authors used data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 2000 to 2006 to characterize the age distribution and types of visits seen by med-peds, internal medicine, pediatric, and family physicians.
Results: Forty-three percent of visits to med-peds physicians were from children < or = 18 years of age. Compared with family physicians, med-peds physicians saw a higher proportion of infants and toddlers < or = 2 years of age (21.0% versus 3.7%; P = .002) and children < or = 18 years of age (42.9% versus 15.5%; P = .002), but they treated fewer adults age 65 or older (13.8% versus 21.3%; P = .013). Compared with internists, med-peds physicians saw a greater percentage of visits from adults 19 to 64 years of age (75.8% versus 61.2%) and fewer visits from patients age 65 or older (24.2% versus 38.8%; P = .006). Med-peds physicians, like family physicians and pediatricians, most commonly treated patients for acute problems and reported high levels of continuity of care for patients-pediatric (93.6%) and adult (94.6%).
Conclusions: Med-peds physicians care for a considerable proportion of pediatric patients while maintaining high levels of continuity of care for adult and pediatric patients. Within their practices, med-peds physicians treat a larger percentage of pediatric patients than do family physicians, but they see a smaller percentage of elderly patients.