Introduction: Accessibility and continuity of primary health care in rural Canada are inadequate, mainly because of a relative shortage of family physicians. To alleviate the uneven distribution of physicians in rural and urban regions, Quebec has implemented measures associated with 3 types of physician practices in rural areas. The objectives of our study were to describe the practices of these types of physicians in a rural area and to analyze the impact of physician distribution policies aimed at offsetting the lack of resources.
Methods: Data were drawn from a medical administrative database and included information related to physicians' practices in the rural area of Beauce, Que., in 2007.
Results: The practices of permanently settled physicians in rural areas differ from those of physicians who substitute for short periods. Permanently settled physicians offer mostly primary care services, whereas physicians who temporarily substitute devote much of their time to hospital-based practice.
Conclusion: Physician distribution policies implemented in Quebec to compensate for the lack of medical resources in rural areas have reduced the deficit in hospital care but not in primary care.