Despite general consensus that long-term care (LTC) financing, delivery, and regulation are in need of overhaul, antagonism among various LTC constituency groups may pose a challenge to the adoption of needed reforms. This study, published in a special supplement to Medical Care Research and Review, discusses findings from a Commonwealth Fund–supported survey of 1,147 long-term care specialists, who were asked to nominate other "experts" in LTC. The authors’ goal was to describe the various networks of LTC specialists and assess the relationship between group characteristics and attitudes toward financing and regulatory reform.
What the Study Found
The survey respondents tended to nominate as experts other people within their own constituency group, an indication that individuals may not know of or consider others outside their peer group to be experts in LTC. For example, 75 percent of the nominations made by policy experts were for other policy experts. But the survey also showed that academic and research-based policy experts were most likely to be classified as prominent opinion leaders. "[I]nsularity among policy experts may be especially problematic, since academic-based specialists may have less appreciation for the day-today realities of financing, delivering, and regulating LTC than members of other constituency groups and therefore may not fully appreciate the practical implications of particular reform strategies," the authors note.
The authors recommend continued investigation of the social structure of the community of LTC specialists, as it could lead to the design of more sophisticated ways of disseminating information regarding adoption of long-term care policy reforms.