The relationship between family physician density and health related outcomes: the Canadian evidence

Cah Sociol Demogr Med. 2008 Jan-Mar;48(1):61-105.


This paper analyzes if and to what extent the density of family physicians influences health related outcomes in Canada. The density of family physicians in a given region is assumed to serve as proxy for the access to and availability of desirable primary care services. We use self-reported general and mental health status as our overall health outcome measures. We also use several quality of care indicators reflecting whether or not an individual received influenza immunization, mammography, pap smear, and colorectal cancer screening if at high-risk. The empirical results of this study suggest that an additional family physician per 10,000 population has a statistically significant impact in the order of 2% to 4% on self-reported general health status, as well as, other quality of care outcomes. We also find important socioeconomic and demographic factors, such as income, education and immigrant status, influencing health related outcomes considered in this study. Understanding the influence of physician density and socioeconomic factors on health related outcomes are important considerations for health policy and planning.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Educational Status
  • Emigrants and Immigrants
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Income
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Male
  • Mammography
  • Mass Screening
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Papanicolaou Test
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data
  • Physicians, Family / supply & distribution*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Rectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vaginal Smears


  • Influenza Vaccines