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Abstract Public health nurses (PHNs) have been attached to family doctors' offices as one mode of organizing the delivery of nursing services in the community. However, different nurses function in different roles on a continuum from gener-alist to liaison. A descriptive study was undertaken to determine the most effective role for PHNs attached to family physicians' offices. Outcomes for both physicians and nurses were satisfaction with the role of the PHN, appropriateness of referrals, and accessibility for consultation. These outcomes were compared relative to the rating of PHNs of their role. A cohort of physicians without attachment PHNs were also surveyed to compare responses on the same criteria. The majority of nurses described their role generalist. This role was related to greater satisfaction for nurses and the physicians with whom they worked. Satisfaction with PHN service, ease of arranging consultation with PHN, and appropriateness of referrals from PHNs was greater for physicians who had the attachment than those who used the usual service.