Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Researchers at George Washington University have found that nurse practitioners and physician assistants provide the same quality of care as doctors in community health center settings.
"Findings from our study should be reassuring to patients who rely on community health centers for their care," Ellen Kurtzman, associate professor in the George Washington School of Nursing and lead author of the study, said in a press release. "We found that care is likely to be comparable regardless of whether patients are seen by a nurse practitioner, physician assistant or physician."
Community health centers are becoming more common in underserved areas with low-income, uninsured, immigrant and minority populations.
Researchers analyzed five years of data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey's Community Health Center subsample, comparing nine patient outcomes by practitioner type.
Areas of analysis were smoking cessation counseling, depression treatment, ordering or prescribing of statins for hyperlipidemia, physical exams, total number of health education services, imaging services, total number of medications and referral patterns.
Results showed that patients who visited nurse practitioners and physician assistants received the same quality, services and referrals as patients who visited physicians.
The study was published in Medical Care.