NamePercentage of Population With a Regular Medical Doctor
DescriptionThe percentage of the population that reported having a regular medical doctor
InterpretationHigher percentages are desirable.
HSP Framework Dimension

Health System Outputs: Access to comprehensive, high quality health services

Areas of Need

Getting Better

Geographic Coverage

All provinces/territories

Reporting Level/Disaggregation

International, National, Province/Territory, Region

Latest Result Update Date

11/2013

Indicator Results

http://ourhealthsystem.ca/#!/indicators/001/have-a-regular-doctor

Identifying Information
NamePercentage of Population With a Regular Medical Doctor
Short/Other Names

Have a Regular Doctor

Indicator Description and Calculation
DescriptionThe percentage of the population that reported having a regular medical doctor
Calculation: Description

Number of people who report that they have a regular medical doctor divided by the number of survey respondents

Population estimates are calculated using survey weights.

Calculation: Geographic Assignment

Place of residence

Calculation: Type of Measurement

Percentage or proportion

Calculation: Adjustment Applied

None

Calculation: Method of Adjustment

Not Applicable

Denominator

Description:
Survey respondents age 12 and older
Exclusions:
1. Non-response categories ("refusal," "don't know" and "not stated") are excluded as of 2009.

Numerator

Description:
Respondents who reported that they have a regular medical doctor

Background, Interpretation and Benchmarks
Rationale

For many Canadians, the first point of contact for medical care is their doctor. Having a regular doctor may be associated with more comprehensive care, and improving access to primary care physicians has been a policy objective for most jurisdictions. Being without a regular medical doctor is associated with fewer visits to general practitioners or specialists, who can play a role in the early screening and treatment of medical conditions. Factors affecting whether one has a regular medical doctor include age and sex. In 2011, the most common reason respondents gave for not having a regular doctor was that they had not looked for one.

Interpretation

Higher percentages are desirable.

HSP Framework Dimension

Health System Outputs: Access to comprehensive, high quality health services

Areas of Need

Getting Better

Targets/Benchmarks

Not Applicable

References

Canadian Institute for Health Information. Experiences With Primary Health Care in Canada. Ottawa, ON: CIHI; 2009.

Commonwealth Fund. International Health Policy Center. http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Topics/International-Health-Policy/Bar.aspx?ind=165. Updated 2013. Accessed August 6, 2013.

Statistics Canada. Access to a regular medical doctor 2011. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2012001/article/11656-eng.htm. Updated June 19, 2012. Accessed May 17, 2013.

St-Pierre M, Béland Y. Mode effects in the Canadian Community Health Survey: A Comparison of CAPI and CATI. 2004 Proceedings of the American Statistical Association Meeting . 2004. Toronto, ON : American Statistical Association.

Availability of Data Sources and Results
Data Sources

CCHS, Statistics Canada, Commonwealth Fund (2013)

Available Data Years

Type of Year:
Calendar
First Available Year:
2003
Last Available Year:
Ongoing

Geographic Coverage

All provinces/territories

Reporting Level/Disaggregation

International, National, Province/Territory, Region

Result Updates
Update Frequency

Every year

Latest Result Update Date

11/2013

Indicator Results

Web Tool:
OurHealthSystem.ca
URL: http://ourhealthsystem.ca/#!/indicators/001/have-a-regular-doctor

Updates

Not Applicable

Quality Statement
Caveats and Limitations

Some values have data quality flags that indicate "use with caution" or "suppressed" due to high coefficients of variation: health regions with small populations and results disaggregated by age group or sex within small regions.

The two-year combined data is less current than annual estimates but has higher precision (less variability). Users should refer to the annual CANSIM Table 105-0501 as the primary source for the most current estimates from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) as well as to obtain data from previous years. However, where data quality flags indicate suppression (F) or higher variability (E), the two-year CANSIM Table 105-0502 should be used.

The CCHS covers the population age 12 and older living in the 10 provinces and 3 territories. Excluded from the survey's coverage are

– Persons living on reserves and other Aboriginal settlements in the provinces

– Full-time members of the Canadian Forces

– The institutionalized population

– Persons living in the Quebec health regions of région du Nunavik and région des Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James

In Nunavut, coverage is limited to the 10 largest communities, which represents about 70% of Nunavut's population.

Altogether, these exclusions represent less than 3% of the target population.

Trending Issues

In 2005 and 2003, the indicator in French included only "médecin de famille." Starting in 2007, this concept was widened to "médecin régulier," which includes "médecin de famille."

Comments

A low percentage may be related to the use of options other than a doctor's office. In the territories, a nurse practitioner is often used as the first point of medical contact, rather than a medical doctor.

Data on the use of different types of regular places of care is limited, as this is not tracked in the CCHS. In 2008, according to the Canadian Survey of Experiences With Primary Health Care, 91% of adults reported that they have a regular place they usually go to if they are sick or need advice about their health. Most reported this to be a doctor's office (clinic or practice) (78%), while 17% went to a walk-in clinic, centre local de services communautaires (CLSC) or community health centre (CHC).

Where use of clinics, CLSCs and CHCs as regular places of care is high, a relatively low percentage having a regular medical doctor might not reflect poor access to primary care.

Individuals may also have a nurse practitioner as their regular primary care provider and not have a regular medical doctor.

Estimates for 2001 are available from the Health Services Access Survey (HSAS). The HSAS was administered to a sub-sample of CCHS respondents in 2001 in the 10 provinces. The estimates produced for family physicians from the HSAS may vary slightly from those reported by its parent, the CCHS, for several reasons, including differences in target samples (HSAS includes those age 15 and older while CCHS includes those age 12 and older), survey methods and the context within which the question was presented. Furthermore, the question about family physicians in the HSAS asked about "family doctor" while the CCHS asked about "medical doctor," which could be interpreted differently by respondents and cause the estimate to be different. The concept of "family doctor" was used in the HSAS to have a more precise measure of access to primary care.

An age-standardized estimate is also reported for the provinces/territories (using the direct method, standard Canadian population 1991) in CANSIM Table 105-0503.

Additional data is available for years prior to 2003:

– National Population Health Survey, 1994, 1996, 1998

– CCHS, 2000–2001: The sample in CCHS 2000–2001 had a higher proportion of respondents interviewed in person than in subsequent years of the survey, which affected the comparability of some key health indicators (St-Pierre and Béland, 2004).