The declining comprehensiveness of primary care

February 2002
CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal;2/19/2002, Vol. 166 Issue 4, p429
Academic Journal
Background: Recent studies suggest that comprehensiveness of primary care has declined steadily over the past decade. This study tracks the participation rates of general practitioners and family physicians in 6 nonoffice settings across Ontario and examines among which types of physicians this decline in comprehensiveness has occurred. Methods: Billing (claims) records were used to determine the proportions of fee-for-service general practitioners and family physicians who provided emergency, inpatient, nursing home, house call, anesthesia or obstetrical services from 1989/90 to 1999/2000. "Office-only" physicians were those who worked in none of these nonoffice settings. The relation of various physician characteristics to comprehensiveness of care was tested with multivariate analysis for 1999/2000. Results: The proportion of "office-only" general practitioners and family physicians rose from 14% in 1989/90 to 24% in 1999/2000 (p < 0.001). Significant increases in this proportion were noted among general practitioners and family physicians of all ages, both sexes and all practice locations. In 1999/2000, recent graduates (who had completed medical school within the past 7 years) had higher participation rates for emergency medicine (40% v. 5% for physicians aged 65 years and older); female physicians had higher participation rates for obstetrics (16% v. 11% for males); and older physicians had higher participation rates for nursing home visits and house calls (20% and 57% respectively v. 11% and 37% for recent graduates). However, "office-only" physicians were more likely to be female (odds ratio [OR] 2.65, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.37-2.96), recent graduates (OR 1.35, 95% CI 1.15-1.60), aged 65 years and older (OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.20-1.75) or practising in a city with a medical school (OR 2.30, 95% CI 2.06-2.56) and were less likely to be rural physicians (OR 0.31, 95% CI 0.24-0.41) or certified in family medicine (OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.52-0.66). Interp...


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