Weekly work hours and clinical activities of Canadian family physicians: results of the 1997/98 National Family Physician Survey of the College of Family Physicians of Canada

Slade, Steve; Busing, Nick
May 2002
CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal;5/28/2002, Vol. 166 Issue 11, p1407
Academic Journal
Background Health systems planning is a challenging task, exacerbated by a lack of detailed information on the role played by family physicians, as indicated by practice variations across regions and demographic characteristics. Outcome measures used in past studies of family physician practice patterns were not uniform. Furthermore, past research has generally been limited to narrowly defined geographic regions. A national study of family physician practice patterns was undertaken to allow regional-level comparisons of clinical workload and range of medical services offered. Methods The 1997/98 National Family Physician Survey was mailed to a sample of 5198 Canadian family physicians and general practitioners (FP/GPs); the overall response rate was 58.4% (3036 questionnaires returned, of which 3004 were analyzable). Sampling strata were based on College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) membership status and regions of Canada. Results Clinical workload varied considerably across the demographic categories studied. Male physicians reported 8.9 more total weekly work hours than female physicians, but the mean number of medical and clinical services offered did not differ between the sexes. Solo practitioners reported 53.8 (95% confidence interval [CI] 52.7-55.0) total weekly work hours, whereas those practising in multidisciplinary clinics reported 45.0 (95% CI 43.2-46.8) hours. FP/GPs in the Atlantic and Prairie provinces reported 5.6 and 5.1 more weekly work hours, respectively, than the national average of 51.4 (95% CI 50.8-52.0) hours. Finally, FP/GPs who served inner-city populations reported 48.6 (95% CI 46.8-50.5) total weekly work hours, whereas those serving rural populations reported 57.0 (95% CI 54.7-59.2) hours. Mean weekly work hours were similar for all age cohorts less than 65 years. FP/GPs practising in less populated provinces and in rural areas reported the highest numbers of work hours, medical services offered and clinical procedures...


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