WHO study: Midwives, nurse practitioners as effective as docs

Non-physicians--midwives, nurse practitioners and physician assistants--provide as good as care as physicians and in many cases patients like them better, according to a new study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. Researchers analyzed data from 53 studies--mostly from high-income countries including the United States, and found no differences in the effectiveness of care that physicians and mid-level health workers provide for maternal and child health, and communicable and nocommunicable diseases. Furthermore, women were significantly more satisfied with care provided by midwives. "Our findings de-bunk the myth that more extensive use of mid-level health workers might lead to services of poorer quality; despite the limitations of the evidence, it seems that in some areas they actually out-performed physicians," said lead author Zohra S. Lassi, senior instructor in the division of women and child health at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, in the study announcement. "Most of our findings point to opportunities that all countries--rich and poor alike--can exploit." Announcement and Study (.pdf)