A study of the communication factors and perceptions influencing physician referral decisions in two multi-hospital communities

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Clark, Thomas A.
Sharpe, Melvin L.
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Thesis (M.A.)
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The purpose of this study was two-fold. First, it was designed to determine what factors physicians consider most important when choosing a hospital to use for patient referrals. The second portion of the study sought to determine what means of communication were most effective in reaching physicians. A review of the available literature showed that some studies had been conducted on the physician-tophysician referral process. However, nothing had been done on the physician-to-hospital relationship. No communication studies were found regarding what form(s) of communication is/are the most effective in reaching the physicians.A survey was sent to all members of the medical communities in Madision County/Anderson, Indiana, and Allen County/Fort Wayne, Indiana. All results of the survey were tested by statistics with all results found to be non-significant. Only percentages were reported in the study.The study showed that physicians were mostly concerned with care-related factors when referring patients to a hospital. These factors include quality of patient management, patient results, availability of specialists and reputation of specialists. Of least importance to the physicians were patient-related factors such as cost, convenience, and preference of hospital.The survey also showed that the physicians' age and area of specialty made no difference in how receptive they were to communications. When asked about mass media, the physicians said they noticed newspapers the most, followed by television and radio. When asked how they preferred to receive information from or about a hospital, doctors listed, from most preferred to least preferred, direct mail, medical staff newsletters, medical society publications, hospital publications, and educational meetings.The researcher feels that an in-depth interview approach with the physicians would better determine the more complex reasons for referral decisions. A readability study would also determine to what extent the physicians read, heard, or saw the messages sent to them, and how design, layout and writing style would assist the hospitals and other health professions in reaching the physicians more effectively.