Different practice patterns of rural and urban general practitioners are predicted by the General Practice Rurality Index

Can J Rural Med. Spring 2007;12(2):73-80.


Introduction: There are differences between rural and urban general medical practice. However, research in this area has been hampered by the lack of a practical and valid definition of "rural." This study attempts to validate the General Practice Rurality Index (GPRI) by showing that it can predict the fee-for-service billing patterns of general practitioners in British Columbia.

Methods: We obtained one year of fee-for-service billing data for all general practitioners in BC, apportioned by local health area (LHA). The total numbers of each type of service in each LHA were categorized into logical groups and expressed as a percentage of total services for that LHA. Each LHA was given a full GPRI score and a simplified GPRI (GPRI-S) score. We then compared the scores and percentage of services in each fee category.

Results: We found significant correlations between the degree of rurality and the percentage of certain services. The GPRI-S produced more significant correlations than the full GPRI.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence that both the full GPRI and a simplified version can be used to predict practice patterns of BC general practitioners. Further study is needed to prove whether either of these indices will be an accurate and reliable measure of rurality across Canada.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • British Columbia
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Family Practice / economics
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fee-for-Service Plans / trends
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'* / trends
  • Rural Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Health Services* / economics
  • Rural Health Services* / statistics & numerical data
  • Rural Population
  • Urban Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Urban Health Services* / economics
  • Urban Health Services* / statistics & numerical data
  • Urban Population