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Characterizing the palliative care physician workforce: a retrospective cross-sectional study with population-based data in Ontario, Canada


Objectives — Because of an increasing need to build capacity for end-of-life care, improving access to palliative care is a priority. Where a physician practices (eg, hospital, outpatient clinic, home) directly relates to the type of service and the stage of illness at which care is provided. In this study, we describe the physician palliative care specialist workforce and the settings of care within which they practice.

Design — A retrospective cohort.

Setting and Participants — All physicians with palliative care billing codes who were practicing between April 1, 2018, and March 31, 2019, in Ontario, Canada.

Methods — Descriptive statistics of physician billing location and frequency using linked population-based health administrative data.

Results — We identified 8883 physicians who provided palliative care during the study period. Of those, 723 (8.1%) were classified as palliative care specialists (>10% of their billings encounters were palliative care). The majority (57.4%) of palliative care specialists worked in 1 setting more than 90% of their time, across home visits (27.1%), indirect care (22.4%), and office (7.9%). There were 61 palliative care specialists practicing in mixed locations who provided home visits, meaning 310 (42.9%) of the palliative care specialists delivered some home-based care.

Conclusions and Implications — This research provides a comprehensive description of the current palliative care specialist physician workforce that can support efforts to build capacity for high-quality end-of-life care.



Rice E, Scott MM, Webber C, Seow H, Sivapathasundaram B, Tanuseputro P. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2023; Jul 14 [Epub ahead of print].

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