Face-to-face visits by children and adolescents in office-based practice in the mid-1970s were studied. Pediatricians, family physicians, and general practitioners accounted for 35%, 6%, and 30%, respectively, of all child visits. Although 40% to 45% of preventive and medical encounters were with pediatricians, only 12% of visits for minor surgery, 20% of visits for psychosocial problems, and 9% of visits for combined medical-surgical reasons were to pediatricians. Only in very young children did pediatricians provide a substantial proportion of care for each of the types of visits. For some common diagnoses (acne, refractive error) most care was provided by specialists other than primary care specialists, but less than 16% of all preventive care visits (including routine eye examinations) was provided by specialists other than primary care physicians. A substantial proportion of the prenatal care and management of minor trauma was provided by family physicians and general practitioners. Although the limitations of the study (including an average response rate of 55%, exclusion of certain specialties and institutional physicians, sampling at different times of the year, lack of control for area of location of practice, and lack of information about response rates of different types of physicians within each specialty) preclude definitive conclusions, the findings raise important questions for future study.

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