Clinical Edge

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Greater PCP Supply & Population Mortality

JAMA Intern Med; ePub 2019 Feb 18; Basu, et al

Greater primary care physician (PCP) supply in the US is associated with improved mortality, but per capita PCP supply decreased between 2005‒2015, a new study found. The epidemiological study evaluated US population data and individual-level claims data linked to mortality from 2005 to 2015 against changes in primary care and specialist physician supply during the same time period. Data from 3,142 US counties, 7,144 primary care service areas, and 306 hospital referral regions were analyzed. The primary outcomes were age-standardized life expectancy, cause-specific mortality, and restricted mean survival time. Researchers found:

  • Every 10 additional PCPs per 100,000 population was associated with a 51.5-day increase in life expectancy.
  • A total of 10 additional PCPs per 100,000 population was also associated with reduced cardiovascular, cancer, and respiratory mortality by 0.9% to 1.4%.
  • However, during the study period, the density of PCPs decreased from 46.6 to 41.4 per 100,000 population.


Basu S, Berkowitz SA, Phillips RL, Bitton A, Landon BE, Phillips RS. Association of primary care physician supply with population mortality in the United States, 2005-2015. [Published online ahead of print February 18, 2019]. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.7624.