Is general practitioner decision making associated with patient socio-economic status?

Soc Sci Med. 1996 Jan;42(1):35-46. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(95)00063-1.


This paper presents a preliminary exploration into the relationship between decisions made by general practitioners (GPs) and the socio-economic status (SES) of patients. There is a large literature on the association between SES, health state and the use of health services, but relatively little has been published on the association between SES and decisions by clinicians once a patient is in the health system. The associations between GP decision making and the patient's SES, health status, gender and insurance status are examined using logit analysis. Three sets of binary choices are analysed: the decision to follow up; to prescribe; and to perform or to order a diagnostic test. Secondary data on consultations for a check up/examination were used to explore these relationships. The results suggest that SES is associated independently with the decision to test and the decision to prescribe but not with the decision to follow up. Patients of high SES are, ceteris paribus, more likely to be tested and less likely to receive a prescription compared with patients of low SES. Women are more likely to be tested and to receive a prescription than men. These findings have implications for the pursuit of equity as a goal of health services policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Decision Making*
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Family Practice*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class*