Patient satisfaction with family physicians and general internists: is there a difference?

J Fam Pract. 1988 May;26(5):543-51.


Although general internists and family physicians see similar types of patients, they have been found to have different styles of practice. It is not known whether these differences in practice style are associated with differences in outcomes of care such as patient satisfaction. This study examined whether patients of family physicians and general internists have different perceptions of the care they receive. National samples of recently trained family physicians and general internists were asked to complete questionnaires about their practices and to record information on all patient encounters during a three-day period. Three patients were randomly sampled from among those seen by each physician during the study period and were sent questionnaires that included questions about their satisfaction with the medical care they were receiving from the physician. Two hundred thirteen adult patients who saw 124 family physicians and 218 adult patients who saw 98 general internists participated in this study. Patients of general internists and of family physicians reported similar levels of satisfaction on all four dimensions measured (access, humaneness, quality, and general satisfaction) even after controlling for the effects of a variety of patient, practice, physician, and encounter characteristics. It is concluded that the fundamental differences in practice style that have been reported between family physicians and general internists do not seem to be associated with differences in patient satisfaction.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Family Practice*
  • Internal Medicine*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States