Skip to content

Study Sheds Light on Public Opinion of PAs

Findings Remain Favorable as PA Workforce Grows

A new study sheds positive light on the public’s perception towards physician assistants/associates (PAs). The study further evaluated the public’s satisfaction about PAs as health care becomes more patient-centered and the number of PAs in the workforce continues to grow.

The study conducted by NCCPA titled “Public experience with and perspectives on medical care provided by PAs” was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA) in October.

“A large majority of the public has been treated by a PA (66.8%), and among those that have been treated, the vast majority (91%) are very satisfied or likely to see a PA again (85%) for their medical needs and would recommend the PA (71.8%),” said Andrzej Kozikowski, Ph.D, NCCPA’s Senior Director of Research and a lead researcher in the study.

While previous research has consistently shown that patients are satisfied with the care provided by PAs, previous studies focused on specific practice settings. Few national surveys have explored the general public’s views on PAs.

Taking a sample representative of the U.S. population in terms of age, sex, race, ethnicity, education and insurance status, the study surveyed more than 1,400 participants from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Even among those who have never seen a PA, most are willing to receive medical care by one, either for any condition (30.6%) or for minor medical conditions (43.8%). Only 4.3% respondents said they were unwilling to receive care from a PA.

“These findings suggest the public has a high level of trust and confidence in PAs,” Kozikowski said. “But there’s still an opportunity to educate and increase public awareness on what PAs can do because a good proportion, about 20%, said that they needed to learn more.”

The roles of PAs have continued to evolve with health care. PAs are trained and certified in general medicine, which allows them to work in various medical and surgical specialties and practice settings. The PA profession has continued to experience growth – a 76% increase in the last decade – from 95,583 in 2013 to 168,318 at the end of 2022, according to NCCPA.

Understanding public perceptions of PAs is important for policymakers and insurers because it can help inform decisions.

To read the research, visit JAAPA online.