Do Family Physicians in Germany Treat Children and Adolescents?
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Background: In Germany, pediatricians and family physicians both care for children and adolescents. With increasing age, the proportion of children and adolescents treated by family physicians increases. Up to now, it has been unknown what percentage of family practices actually provides care for children and adolescents.Methods: Computer assisted telephone interviews were conducted with a random sample of family practices in Berlin and Brandenburg. The practice nurse or the family physician were asked if they care for children and adolescents in their surgery and from which age on. The results were analysed by state and community size. Differences in ratio and age distribution where tested by non-parametric tests.Results: 200 family practices were included in the analysis (response rate 85.3 %). Across state and community size 25.5 % of family practices do not provide care for children or adolescents at all. However, the age from which on children and adolescents are cared for differs significantly between states and by community size: in major cities, 13.6 % of family practices provide care for infants compared to 26.5 % of surgeries in medium-sized towns and 37.5 % in small towns and rural areas.Conclusions: There are substantial differences between individual family practices regarding the provision of care for children and adolescents. The results highlight the importance of competencies in the provision of care for children and adolescents for family physicians. The barriers to treating children and adolescents should be further examined.