Background: Family medicine has aspired to train residents and conduct research in settings that closely resemble community practice. The purpose of this study was to compare the patient characteristics of the ambulatory teaching centers of a consortium of seven community-based university-affiliated family practice residency programs in northeast Ohio with the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) results for family physicians (FPs) and general practitioners (GPs).
Methods: Ninety-eight faculty and resident physicians at the residency training site of the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine collected data on all ambulatory patient visits (N = 1498) for one randomly chosen week between July 1, 1991, and June 30, 1992. We compared these data with patient visits reported in the 1990 NAMCS for FPs and GPs.
Results: The residency training sites saw slightly more children, women, blacks, and Medicare and Medicaid patients. The most common reason for an office visit in both populations was an undifferentiated symptom. Fifteen of the top 20 "reason for visit" codes were identical, as were 14 of the top 20 diagnoses. More preventive and therapeutic services were offered or performed at our residency training sites but fewer diagnostic services were performed. There were fewer consultations requested at our residency training sites but similar hospitalization rates for patients. The mean duration of visit differed by only 1 minute.
Conclusions: The residency training sites of the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine provide patient care opportunities similar to those found in a national survey of family and general practitioners.