A cross-sectional study of the practice types of US adult primary care physician specialists

Richard A. Young, Elizabeth Wilkinson, Tyler W. Barreto, Rebecca L. Newton, Akshaj Turebylu, Dana Bullock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Many physicians listed as primary care in databases such as the American Medical Association (AMA) Masterfile do not provide traditional ambulatory primary care. OBJECTIVE: To compare physicians listed in the AMA Masterfile as primary care physician (PCPs) specialists for adult patients with their actual practice type. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study of the AMA Masterfile report for PCPs who care for adults (listed as family medicine, internal medicine, medicine-paediatrics, and geriatrics) in the summer and fall of 2018 (spring of 2019 for Hartford, CT) in the primary counties of 8 metropolitan areas across the United States. We searched multiple websites to determine the actual practice type of each physician in the study counties. We correlated the 2 datasets: the AMA Masterfile list vs the results of our searches. RESULTS: Family physicians were more likely to function as traditional ambulatory PCPs than internists [1,738/2,101 (82.7%) vs 1,241/2,025 (60.9%), P < 0.001], and less likely to be hospitalists [83/2,101 (4.0%) vs 631/2,025 (31.0%), P < 0.001]. Other practice types included urgent care [105 (5.0%) family physicians, 16 (0.8%) internists] and emergency medicine [49 (2.3%) family physicians, 20 (1.0%) internists]. The AMA Masterfile identified 4,892 practicing PCPs for adult patients in the study counties, of which 3,084 (63.0%) matched by location and ambulatory PCP practice type [3,695 (75.5%) for ambulatory PCP practice type only]. CONCLUSIONS: We provide an updated estimate using a unique methodology to estimate how to correct the AMA Masterfile for PCPs who actually provide traditional ambulatory primary care to adult patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-804
Number of pages6
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 24 2022


  • family medicine
  • geriatrics
  • internal medicine
  • physicians
  • primary care
  • workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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