Impact of physicians' perceptions of malpractice and adaptive changes on intention to cease obstetrical practice

Lawton R. Burns, Terry Connolly, Robert A. DeGraaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Physicians who provide obstetrical care in rural areas face exposure to liability action and confront a critical decision whether to continue to offer these services. This paper draws upon social-psychological and decision theories to investigate this decision. Ninety-four percent of all obstetricians and family and general physicians practicing in the 12 nonmetropolitan counties of one state responded to a mail survey that asked about their intention to continue or discontinue obstetrical practice, two dimensions of subjective risk (perceived likelihood of threats in the malpractice environment and perceived magnitude of negative consequences from being sued), and adaptive changes to protect against malpractice. The results suggest that (a) perceived extent of negative consequences (but not perceived likelihood of malpractice threats) drives intention to leave obstetrics, (b) the professional and reputational impacts of a suit - not the dollar amount of award or settlement - predicts intention to stop practicing obstetrics, and (c) physicians planning to continue providing obstetrical care in the future have made recent practice changes that may further exacerbate access problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-146
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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