, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 116-121

Health and health care among housestaff in four U.S. internal medicine residency programs

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BACKGROUND: Although there have been many studies of the health care services that resident physicians provide, little is known about the health care services they receive.

OBJECTIVE: To describe residents’ perceptions of the health care they receive.

DESIGN: Anonymous mailed survey.

SUBJECTS: All 389 residents in four U.S. categorical internal medicine training programs.

MAIN RESULTS: Three hundred sixteen residents responded (83%). In aggregate, 116 (37%) reported having no primary care physician, and 36 (12%) reported that they are their own primary care physician. These figures varied substantially across the four programs. Most residents reported receiving basic screening and preventive services; however, their attitudes toward their health and health care differed across postgraduate level, gender, and program. Many residents reported that their long and unpredictable hours interfered with their ability to schedule clinician visits, that their health had declined because of residency, that programs and other residents were unsupportive of residents’ health care needs, and that residency raised special issues of privacy that limited access to health care.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite high rates of receipt of preventive services, these internal medicine residents identified several barriers that limited their access to health care. Program directors should explore these barriers and, at the same time, reevaluate the messages being sent to resident physicians about maintaining their health and health care.

This work was supported in part by SmithKline Beecham and the Greenwall Foundation. Dr. Asch is a Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Senior Research Associate.