A National Survey on the characteristics of Iranian General Practitioners and Their Preferred Specialty: A Need to Transition toward Preventive Medicine

Yaser Sarikhani, Peivand Bastani, Mohsen Bayati


Background: The shortage and unbalanced distribution of physicians has adverse effects on the provision of equitable services at all levels of health care and especially at the prevention and primary care levels. The choice of specialty can seriously change the structure and composition of the physician workforce. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the relationship between background characteristics of Iranian general practitioners’ (GPs) and their preferred specialty fields. Methods: In this mixed‑method study, first, 12 medical doctors participated in a nominal group technique to determine the most important background characteristics that affect GPs’ preferences for specialty selection. In the second phase, we conducted a survey among 680 GPs in six provinces from different geographic regions. We gathered data using a researcher‑made checklist and analyzed them using an adjusted multivariate regression. Results: The adjusted analysis showed that being female, being married, being in an older age group, having children, graduation from universities located in the provincial centers, and decision for living and practicing in the less‑populated areas were significantly associated with the Iranian GPs’ preferences for non‑surgical specialties. Conclusions: This study provided evidence that could inform national health workforce policy‑makers to avoid unbalanced distribution of physicians and accordingly to ensure the provision of equitable services at all levels of healthcare and especially at the primary care level. Other effective factors on the selection of specialty should be evaluated at the national level using specific surveys and econometrics studies such as discrete selection experiment to move toward preventive medicine.


Career; choice; factors; medical; preventive medicine; socioeconomic; specialty

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