Medical norms and medical innovation: adoption of genetic counselling and new drugs among primary care physicians

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Abstract This study analyses the differential impact of physicians’traditional professional norms on their use of two innovations, genetic counseling and new drugs. These two medical innovations require rather different practice orientations, since the former (genetic counselling) necessitates a non‐traditional preventive and psychosocial approach, while the latter (prescribing new drugs) can occur within a traditional interventionist treatment framework. It is hypothesized that acceptance of traditional norms will be positively correlated with use of new drugs, but negatively correlated with use of genetic counselling. Data obtained through mailed questionnaires received from 307 primary care physicians practising in or near Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, provide tentative support for the research hypothesis. The discussion suggests some dysfunctional aspects of traditional medical norms, and points to the need for further research on the unanticipated consequences of that normative structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-219
Number of pages13
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1981


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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