The family physician and house calls: A survey of Colorado family physicians

Cory J. Ingram, Ann O'Brien-Gonzales, Deborah S. Main, Gwyn Barley, John M. Westfall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Visiting patients at home has long been one of the activities of the family physician, but the practice of making house calls has diminished significantly during the second half of the 20th century. The goal of this study was to describe physicians' attitudes about house calls and their practice of making them in the rapidly changing health care environment of the United States. METHODS. A 30-item, self-administered questionnaire was designed to obtain demographic information about physicians and their attitudes toward house calls, practice experiences with making house calls, and any additional factors that influence making house calls. It was mailed to all members of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians, during the summer of 1997. RESULTS. A 66% response rate was obtained from practicing physicians. Overall attitudes toward house calls were positive. Fifty-three percent of the respondents reported making house calls, and 8% reported making more than 2 house calls per month. Male physicians, those older than 40 years, those in rural settings, and those trained in a community-based residency were more likely to make house calls. Patient payer mix and practice setting were also related to whether a physician made house calls. House calls were most frequently made to geriatric patients, cancer patients, trauma patients, and patients with transportation difficulties. Many physicians reported using home health agencies for assessment and treatment of patients needing home care. CONCLUSIONS. Family physicians agree that house calls are good for patients. More than half of the respondents reported that they occasionally make house calls. However, few physicians routinely perform house calls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-65
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Family Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999


  • Geriatric assessment
  • Home health agencies
  • House calls
  • Reimbursement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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