Care received by patients from nurse practitioners and physicians in U.S. primary care settings


      • Both NPs and physician serve a USC role for the population. Both of them serve a supplemental role to each other.
      • Regardless of their roles, patients reported receiving more therapeutic or preventive care from NPs but more diagnostic care and biomedical treatments from physicians in the U.S. primary care settings.
      • Patients reported having similar diagnoses when seen by NPs and physicians serving in a USC role, but different diagnoses when NPs and physicians served in supplemental roles.



      Nurse practitioners (NPs) and physicians serve in both usual source of care (USC) and supplement roles to each other in the provision of primary care to patients. Yet little is known about the care that patients receive from providers in these roles. This study examined the care individuals received when NPs and physicians served in USC and supplemental roles.


      Pooled data from the Household Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey 2002-2013. Cross-sectional, secondary data analysis using propensity score matching and multinomial logistic regression. Data were collected from a national subsample of households.


      Regardless of provider role, patients reported receiving more therapeutic or preventive care from NPs but more diagnostic care and biomedical treatments from physicians. Patients reported having similar diagnoses when seen by NPs and physicians serving in USC roles, but different diagnoses when NPs and physicians served in supplemental roles.


      NPs and physicians providing different care when serving in the same role. Findings can inform policy-makers as they develop policies for serving patients and utilizing the relevant expertise of NPs and physicians.


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