Physician assistants can be effective in primary care

Added May 12, 2020

Citation: Halter M, Drennan V, Chattopadhyay K, et al. The contribution of physician assistants in primary care: a systematic review. BMC Health Services Research 2013; 13: 223

What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a strain on healthcare systems and healthcare workers. Existing research on the effects of extended roles for physician assistants in primary care may provide useful information for policy makers.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for research evaluating the effects of certified physician assistants on general practice and family medicine care. They restricted their searches to studies published in English and did the search in September 2010. They included 49 studies, which were from Australia (1 study), the Netherlands (1), UK (1) and USA (46); and judged the evidence to be of weak to moderate quality.

What was found: Physician assistants are acceptable to patients in primary care and are able to provide satisfactory care.

The introduction of physician assistants in primary care may increase productivity; but with a different patient caseload to clinicians (including having a higher proportion of younger patients, acute presentations, minor illnesses and preventive consultations).

The retention of physician assistants in primary care is good, under suitable working locations and circumstances.

The cost-effectiveness of using physician assistants in primary care is uncertain.


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