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UNC study: Most N.C. family practitioners engage in unrecognized community service

CHAPEL HILL -- North Carolina family physicians contribute much to society because the great majority of them participate regularly in one or more volunteer community service activities, a unique new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study concludes. Often, that unpaid service has no connection with where they work and receives no public support from their employers.

"Philanthropy and community service are integral parts of American society, and many say the hallmark of medicine as well is public service," said Dr. Adam O. Goldstein, associate professor of family medicine at the UNC School of Medicine.

"We undertook a study of what our colleagues in North Carolina did because despite a tradition of community service and a common but often unspoken belief in its value in medical education, few data exist on U.S. physicians' service involvement in community activities outside of charity medical care," Goldstein said. "We were impressed with what we found in part because it was over and beyond the care physicians give in their practices, as well as charity and free professional care.

"Our study shows that nearly all family physicians reported participating in community service at some time in their professional careers," he said. "For most, this was an ongoing activity, suggesting it is a core aspect of their professional lives and of the discipline."

A report on the study appeared recently in the Journal of American Board of Family Practice. Besides Goldstein, UNC authors are Drs. Diane Calleson, Peter Curtis, Brian Hemphill, George Gamble and Beat Steiner of the department of family medicine. Dr. Thomas K. Moore of the Jacksonville, Fla., Naval Hospital also contributed to the research.

The study involved mailing questionnaires to 489 N.C. family physicians, including a 20 percent random sample of those in community practice and all who served as family medicine faculty members at the state's four medical schools. The
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Contact: David Williamson
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
31-Mar-2005


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