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Changes in comprehensiveness of services delivered by Canadian family physicians: analysis of population-based linked data in 4 provinces


Objective — To describe changes in the comprehensiveness of services delivered by family physicians across service settings and service areas in 4 Canadian provinces, to identify which settings and areas have changed the most, and to compare the magnitude of changes by physician characteristics.

Design — Descriptive analysis of province-wide, population-based billing data linked to population and physician registries.

Setting —British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.

Participants — Family physicians registered to practise in the 1999-2000 and 2017-2018 fiscal years.

Main Outcome Measures — Comprehensiveness was measured across 7 service settings (home care, long-term care, emergency departments, hospitals, obstetric care, surgical assistance, anesthesiology) and in 7 service areas consistent with office-based practice (prenatal and postnatal care, Papanicolaou testing, mental health, substance use, cancer care, minor surgery, palliative home visits). The proportion of physicians with activity in each setting and area are reported and the average number of service settings and areas by physician characteristics is described (years in practice, sex, urban or rural practice setting, and location of medical degree training).

Results — Declines in comprehensiveness were observed across all provinces studied. Declines were greater for comprehensiveness of settings than for areas consistent with office-based practice. Changes were observed across all physician characteristics. On average across provinces, declines in the number of service settings and service areas were highest among physicians in practice 20 years or longer, male physicians, and physicians practising in urban areas.

Conclusion — Declining comprehensiveness was observed across all physician characteristics, pointing to changes in the practice and policy contexts in which all family physicians work.



Lavergne MR, Rudoler D, Peterson S, Stock D, Taylor C, Wilton AS, Wong ST, Scott I, McGrail KM, McCracken RK, Marshall EG, MacKenzie A, Katz A, Jamieson M, Hedden L, Grudniewicz A. Goldsmith LJ, Glazier RH, Burge F, Blackie D. Can Fam Physician. 2023; 69(8):550-6. Epub 2023 Aug 15.

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