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Distribution of physicians in Ontario. Where are there too few or too many family physicians and general practitioners?

Coyte PC, Catz M, Stricker M. Can Fam Physician. 1997; 43:677-83, 733.

Objective — To assess the regional distribution of family physicians and general practitioners in Ontario after adjusting for practice intensity and the population's patterns of health care use.

Design — Analysis of administrative data.

Setting — Ontario.

Main Outcome Measures — Intensity of patient use of GP services, GP practice density, and physician density for each Ontario county (measured as the ratio of practice-intensity equivalent GPs to use-intensity equivalent inhabitants).

Results — Despite adjustment for practice intensity and use patterns, wide variations exist in GP densities. χ2 tests identified counties that consistently reported GP densities significantly different (P < 0.001) from the provincial average. Four of the five counties with health science teaching centres had densities significantly higher than the provincial average, while 10 other counties had significantly lower densities.

Conclusions — Results of this study provide useful information for physician resource planning and might inform debate concerning proposals to restrict physician billing numbers and practice locations to rectify perceived maldistribution of physicians.

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Keywords: Primary care/clinical practice Health care services