Portuguese Family Physicians’ Awareness of Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Costs: A Cross-Sectional StudyReportar como inadecuado

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Physicians’ ability to make cost-effective decisions has been shown to be affected by their knowledge of health care costs. This study assessed whether Portuguese family physicians are aware of the costs of the most frequently prescribed diagnostic and laboratory tests.


A cross-sectional study was conducted in a representative sample of Portuguese family physicians, using computer-assisted telephone interviews for data collection. A Likert scale was used to assess physician’s level of agreement with four statements about health care costs. Family physicians were also asked to estimate the costs of diagnostic and laboratory tests. Each physician’s cost estimate was compared with the true cost and the absolute error was calculated.


One-quarter 24%; 95% confidence interval: 23%–25% of all cost estimates were accurate to within 25% of the true cost, with 55% 95% IC: 53–56 overestimating and 21% 95% IC: 20–22 underestimating the true actual cost. The majority 76% of family physicians thought they did not have or were uncertain as to whether they had adequate knowledge of diagnostic and laboratory test costs, and only 7% reported receiving adequate education. The majority of the family physicians 82% said that they had adequate access to information about the diagnostic and laboratory test costs. Thirty-three percent thought that costs did not influence their decision to order tests, while 27% were uncertain.


Portuguese family physicians have limited awareness of diagnostic and laboratory test costs, and our results demonstrate a need for improved education in this area. Further research should focus on identifying whether interventions in cost knowledge actually change ordering behavior, in identifying optimal methods to disseminate cost information, and on improving the cost-effectiveness of care.

Autor: Luísa Sá, Cristina Costa-Santos, Andreia Teixeira, Luciana Couto, Altamiro Costa-Pereira, Alberto Hespanhol, Paulo Santos, Carl

Fuente: http://plos.srce.hr/


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