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Americans Spend Too Little Time with Primary Care Doctors

Narrator: This is Science Today. The average American spends less time in their primary care doctor's office than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends. Dr. Andrew Bindman of the University of California, San Francisco, who led the study, says there are a few factors contributing to this trend. One is that many patients opt to go directly to specialists.

Bindman: In the United States, only about a third of our doctors are primary care and we've been seeing lately that there's actually been a growing disinterest in this field for many of our U.S. medical graduates. So we have created incentives in part through higher salary to specialists. We have many more of our students going into specialty care.

Narrator: Bindman recommends the U.S. health care system address this growing pay disparity, since primary doctors focus more on preventative care and can treat patients before they need a specialist.

Bindman: When we turn our health care system increasingly over to specialists, it's not that they don't believe in these messages, it's just that their training is much more about taking care of a very specific disease entity.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.