Quality of diabetes care in family medicine practices: Influence of nurse-practitioners and physician's assistants

Pamela A. Ohman-Strickland, A. John Orzano, Shawna V. Hudson, Leif I. Solberg, Barbara Diciccio-Bloom, Dena O'Malley, Alfred F. Tallia, Bijal A. Balasubramanian, Benjamin F. Crabtree

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91 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to assess whether the quality of diabetes care differs among practices employing nurse-practitioners (NPs), physician's assistants (PAs), or neither, and which practice attributes contribute to any differences in care. METHODS: This cross-sectional study of 46 family medicine practices from New Jersey and Pennsylvania measured adherence to American Diabetes Association diabetes guidelines via chart audits of 846 patients with diabetes. Practice characteristics were identified by staff surveys. Hierarchical models determined differences between practices with and without NPs or PAs. RESULTS: Compared with practices employing PAs, practices employing NPs were more likely to measure hemoglobin A1c levels (66% vs 33%), lipid levels (80% vs 58%), and urinary microalbumin levels (32% vs 6%); to have treated for high lipid levels (77% vs 56%); and to have patients attain lipid targets (54% vs 37%) (P ≤.005 for each). Practices with NPs were more likely than physician-only practices to assess hemoglobin A1c levels (66% vs 49%) and lipid levels (80% vs 68%) (P ≤.007 for each). These effects could not be attributed to use of diabetes registries, health risk assessments, nurses for counseling, or patient reminder systems. Practices with either PAs or NPs were perceived as busier (P = .03) and had larger total staff (P <.001) than physician-only practices. CONCLUSIONS: Family practices employing NPs performed better than those with physicians only and those employing PAs, especially with regard to diabetes process measures. The reasons for these differences are not clear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-22
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of family medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Family Practice


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Disease management
  • Family medicine
  • Long-term care
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Office visits
  • Patient care management
  • Physician assistants
  • Practices
  • Professional practice
  • Quality of health care


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