Context: Growth in health care market competition and the concomitant increasing dependence of academic health centers on clinical revenues may require medical school faculty to increase patient care activity, perhaps at the expense of research and teaching. However, the relationship between health care market competitiveness and the activities and attitudes of medical school faculty has not been established.
Objective: To examine the relationship between market competitiveness and the activities and attitudes of medical school faculty members.
Design: Mailed survey of 3394 life-science faculty in the 50 universities that received the most funding from the National Institutes of Health in 1993.
Setting: Medical schools in research-intensive universities.
Participants: A total of 2167 faculty responded to the survey (response rate, 64%). We analyzed the responses of 1671 medical school research faculty located in markets of differing health care competitiveness, ranging from least competitive (stage 1) to most competitive (stage 4) markets.
Main outcome measures: The number of publications in refereed journals in the last 3 years, the average number of hours per week of teaching contact, whether faculty in clinical departments had patient care responsibilities, and measures of departmental community, cooperation, and conflict.
Results: Clinical researchers in stage 1 and 2 markets published more scientific articles than those in stage 3 markets (14.5 vs 12.6, P=.04) or in stage 4 markets (14.5 vs 12.0, P=.03). Among 96 young faculty (professional age-<10 years) in clinical departments, 11 (44%) of those in stage 1 and 2 markets had patient care duties compared with 32 (56.1%) of young faculty members in stage 3 markets (P=.04) and 12 (85.7%) of those in stage 4 markets (P=.01). The percentage of senior faculty in clinical departments (n=691) with patient care responsibilities did not differ significantly by market stage. Compared with faculty in less competitive markets, faculty in stage 4 markets perceived lower levels of departmental cooperation and higher levels of conflict.
Conclusions: Increased competitiveness of health care markets seems to hinder the capacity of academic health centers to conduct clinical research and to foster the careers of young clinical faculty.