Soc Sci Med. 2011 May 23. [Epub ahead of print]
Resisting market-inspired reform in healthcare: The role of professional subcultures in medicine.
Martinussen PE, Magnussen J.
SINTEF Technology and Society, Department of Health Research, Trondheim, Norway.
The reorganisation efforts of the hospital sector in many Western countries in recent decades have challenged the role, identity and autonomy of medical professionals. This has led to increased focus on the role and impact of physicians who are also managers and on the unique discourse being formed through the integration of medical and managerial knowledge. Following the line of studies addressing the professional subcultures in medicine, we investigated whether assessments of health reform differ between medical doctors with managerial responsibilities and their colleagues at the clinical level as well as between those involved in direct patient care and those who are not. The analysis was performed within the context of the Norwegian hospital sector, where a major reform was implemented in 2002, and it was based on a survey of a representative sample of hospital physicians in 2006. The analysis focused on how the respondents viewed the overall effect of the reform and on the reform's effect on three central health policy goals: equity, quality and productivity. Combining data from the survey with organisational and financial data from the hospitals, we employed multilevel techniques to control for a number of individual and hospital-specific factors that could explain the physicians' views. As expected, respondents with managerial responsibilities were more positive in their evaluations of the reform, whereas respondents who spent time on direct patient-related work showed the opposite pattern. Of the hospital-specific factors of interest, the share of department managers with medical backgrounds and the economic situation positively affected the evaluations. Our findings support the view that, rather than managerialist values colonising the medical profession through a process of hybridisation, there is heterogeneity within the profession: some physician managers are adopting management values and tools, whereas others remain alienated from them.