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Primary care physician use and frequency of visits among physicians in Ontario, Canada

Rhodes E, Kendall C, Talarico R, Muggah E, Gerin-Lajoie C, Simon C, McFadden T, Myran D, Sood MM, Tanuseputro P. JAMA Netw Open. 2022; 5(8):e2227662. Epub 2022 Aug 19. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.27662


Importance — Maintaining a healthy physician workforce includes the routine use of primary care physician (PCP) services; however, physicians may face barriers to attaining formal care.

Objective — To analyze access to and frequency of visits to PCPs among physicians compared with nonphysicians.

Design, Setting, and Participants — This population-based, retrospective cohort study used registration data from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, Canada, from January 1, 1990, to March 31, 2018. Data for all newly practicing physicians as of March 31, 2018, were linked to Ontario health administrative databases. Data were analyzed from August 25, 2020, to August 6, 2021.

Main Outcomes and Measures — The main outcomes were enrollment in a PCP practice and visits with a PCP. Generalized estimating equations compared primary care visits between physicians and nonphysicians, matched 1:5 based on age, sex, neighborhood income quintile, and health region.

Results — Among 19 581 physicians (mean [SD] age, 43.99 [8.94] years; 53.27%male) matched to 97 905 nonphysicians, physicians were less likely to be enrolled with a PCP than were nonphysicians (81.8%vs 86.4%; absolute difference, 4.6%; adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.75; 95%CI, 0.72-0.79) and had fewer primary care visits during the preceding 2 years (median [IQR], 2 [0-4] vs 4 [1-7]; adjusted relative rate ratio [RRR], 0.59; 95%CI, 0.58-0.60). Physicians aged 40 years or older and male physicianswere less likely to be rostered (ages 40-44 years: OR, 0.70 [95%CI, 0.64-0.77]; male: OR, 0.60 [95%CI, 0.57-0.63]) and more likely to have a lower frequency of PCP visits (ages 40-44 years: RRR, 0.53 [95%CI, 0.51-0.56]; male: RRR, 0.50 [95%CI, 0.50-0.51]) compared with nonphysicians.

Conclusions and Relevance — In this retrospective cohort study, enrollment with a PCP practice and frequency of visits were lower among physicians compared with a matched general population of nonphysicians. Individual, system, and medical cultural factors associated with these results need to be better understood so that physicians can take better care of themselves and their patients.

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