Immigrants make up one fifth of the Canadian population and this number continues to grow. Adequate access to primary health care is important for this population but it is not clear if this is being achieved. This study explored patient reported access to primary health care of a population of immigrants in Ontario, Canada who were users of the primary care system and compared this with Canadian-born individuals; and by model of primary care practice.
This study uses data from the Comparison of Models of Primary Care Study (COMP-PC), a mixed-methods, practice-based, cross-sectional study that collected information from patients and providers in 137 primary care practices across Ontario, Canada in 2005-2006. The practices were randomly sampled to ensure an equal number of practices in each of the four dominant primary care models at that time: Fee-For-Service, Community Health Centres, and the two main capitation models (Health Service Organization and Family Health Networks). Adult patients of participating practices were identified when they presented for an appointment and completed a survey in the waiting room. Three measures of access were used, all derived from the patient survey: First Contact Access, First Contact Utilization (both based on the Primary Care Assessment Tool) and number of self-reported visits to the practice in the past year.
Of the 5,269 patients who reported country of birth 1,099 (20.8%) were born outside of Canada. In adjusted analysis, recent immigrants (arrival in Canada within the past five years) and immigrants in Canada for more than 20 years were less likely to report good health compared to Canadian-born (Odds ratio 0.58, 95% CI 0.36,0.92 and 0.81, 95% CI 0.67,0.99). Overall, immigrants reported equal access to primary care services compared with Canadian-born. Within immigrant groups recently arrived immigrants had similar access scores to Canadian-born but reported 5.3 more primary care visits after adjusting for health status. Looking across models, recent immigrants in Fee-For-Service practices reported poorer access and fewer primary care visits compared to Canadian-born.
Overall, immigrants who were users of the primary care system reported a similar level of access as Canadian-born individuals. While recent immigrants are in poorer health compared with Canadian-born they report adequate access to primary care. The differences in access for recently arrived immigrants, across primary care models suggests that organizational features of primary care may lead to inequity in access.
Cites: Health Serv Res. 2002 Jun;37(3):529-5012132594
To assess whether the model of service delivery affects the equity of the care provided across age groups.
One hundred thirty-seven practices, including traditional fee-for-service practices, salaried community health centres (CHCs), and capitation-based family health networks and health service organizations.
To compare the quality of care across age groups using multilevel linear or logistic regressions. Health service delivery measures and health promotion were assessed through patient surveys (N = 5111), which were based on the Primary Care Assessment Tool, and prevention and chronic disease management were assessed, based on Canadian recommendations for care, through chart abstraction (N = 4108).
Older individuals reported better health service delivery in all models. This age effect ranged from 1.9% to 5.7%, and was larger in the 2 capitation-based models. Individuals aged younger than 30 years attending CHCs had more features of disadvantage (ie, living below the poverty line and without high school education) and were more likely than older individuals to report discussing at least 1 health promotion subject at the index visit. These differences were deemed an appropriate response to greater needs in these younger individuals. The prevention score showed an age-sex interaction in all models, with adherence to recommended care dropping with age for women. These results are largely attributable to the fact that maneuvers recommended for younger women are considerably more likely to be performed than other maneuvers. Chronic disease management scores showed an inverted U relationship with age in fee-for-service practices, family health networks, and health service organizations but not in CHCs.
The salaried model might have an organizational structure that is more conducive to providing appropriate care across age groups. The thrust toward adopting capitation-based payment is unlikely to have an effect on age disparities.
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The World Health Organization calls for more work evaluating the effect of health care reforms on gender equity in developed countries. We performed this evaluation in Ontario, Canada where primary care models resulting from reforms co-exist.
This cross sectional study of primary care practices uses data collected in 2005-2006. Healthcare service models included in the study consist of fee for service (FFS) based, salaried, and capitation based. We compared the quality of care delivered to women and men in practices of each model. We performed multi-level, multivariate regressions adjusting for patient socio-demographic and economic factors to evaluate vertical equity, and adjusting for these and health factors in evaluating horizontal equity. We measured seven dimensions of health service delivery (e.g. accessibility and continuity) and three dimensions of quality of care using patient surveys (n = 5,361) and chart abstractions (n = 4,108).
Health service delivery measures were comparable in women and men, with differences
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To evaluate the appropriateness of potential data sources for the population of performance indicators for primary care (PC) practices.
This project was a cross sectional study of 7 multidisciplinary primary care teams in Ontario, Canada. Practices were recruited and 5-7 physicians per practice agreed to participate in the study. Patients of participating physicians (20-30) were recruited sequentially as they presented to attend a visit. Data collection included patient, provider and practice surveys, chart abstraction and linkage to administrative data sets. Matched pairs analysis was used to examine the differences in the observed results for each indicator obtained using multiple data sources.
Seven teams, 41 physicians, 94 associated staff and 998 patients were recruited. The survey response rate was 81% for patients, 93% for physicians and 83% for associated staff. Chart audits were successfully completed on all but 1 patient and linkage to administrative data was successful for all subjects. There were significant differences noted between the data collection methods for many measures. No single method of data collection was best for all outcomes. For most measures of technical quality of care chart audit was the most accurate method of data collection. Patient surveys were more accurate for immunizations, chronic disease advice/information dispensed, some general health promotion items and possibly for medication use. Administrative data appears useful for indicators including chronic disease diagnosis and osteoporosis/ breast screening.
Multiple data collection methods are required for a comprehensive assessment of performance in primary care practices. The choice of which methods are best for any one particular study or quality improvement initiative requires careful consideration of the biases that each method might introduce into the results. In this study, both patients and providers were willing to participate in and consent to, the collection and linkage of information from multiple sources that would be required for such assessments.
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While some research has been conducted examining recruitment methods to engage physicians and practices in primary care research, further research is needed on recruitment methodology as it remains a recurrent challenge and plays a crucial role in primary care research. This paper reviews recruitment strategies, common challenges, and innovative practices from five recent primary care health services research studies in Ontario, Canada.
We used mixed qualitative and quantitative methods to gather data from investigators and/or project staff from five research teams. Team members were interviewed and asked to fill out a brief survey on recruitment methods, results, and challenges encountered during a recent or ongoing project involving primary care practices or physicians. Data analysis included qualitative analysis of interview notes and descriptive statistics generated for each study.
Recruitment rates varied markedly across the projects despite similar initial strategies. Common challenges and creative solutions were reported by many of the research teams, including building a sampling frame, developing front-office rapport, adapting recruitment strategies, promoting buy-in and interest in the research question, and training a staff recruiter.
Investigators must continue to find effective ways of reaching and involving diverse and representative samples of primary care providers and practices by building personal connections with, and buy-in from, potential participants. Flexible recruitment strategies and an understanding of the needs and interests of potential participants may also facilitate recruitment.
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Recent work has conceptualized new models for the primary care management of patients with chronic illness. This study investigated the experience of family physicians and patients with a chronic illness management initiative that involved the joint formulation of comprehensive individual patient care plans.
A qualitative evaluation, framed by phenomenology, immediately followed a randomized controlled trial examining the effect of external facilitators in enhancing the delivery of chronic condition care planning in primary care. The study, set in Ontario family practices, used semistructured in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of 13 family physicians, 20 patients, and all 3 study facilitators. Analysis used independent transcript review and constant comparative methods.
Despite the intervention being grounded in patient-centered principles, family physicians generally viewed chronic illness management from a predominantly biomedical perspective. Only a few enthusiasts viewed systematic care planning as a new approach to managing patients with chronic illness. Most family physicians found the strategy to be difficult to implement within existing organizational and financial constraints. For these participants, care planning conflicted with preexisting concepts of their role and of their patient's abilities to become partners in care. The few patients who noticed the process spoke favorably about their experience.
Although the experiences of the enthusiastic family physicians were encouraging, we found important individual-level barriers to chronic illness management in primary care. These issues seemed to transcend existing organizational and resource constraints.
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High blood pressure is an important and modifiable cardiovascular disease risk factor that remains under-detected and under-treated. Community-level interventions that address high blood pressure and other modifiable risk factors are a promising strategy to improve cardiovascular health in populations. The present study is a community cluster-randomised trial testing the effectiveness of CHAP (Cardiovascular Health Awareness Program) on the cardiovascular health of older adults.
Thirty-nine mid-sized communities in Ontario, Canada were stratified by geographic location and size of the population aged >or=65 years and randomly allocated to receive CHAP or no intervention. In CHAP communities, residents aged >or=65 years were invited to attend cardiovascular risk assessment sessions held in pharmacies over 10 weeks in Fall, 2006. Sessions included blood pressure measurement and feedback to family physicians. Trained volunteers delivered the program with support from pharmacists, community nurses and local organisations.
The primary outcome measure is the relative change in the mean annual rate of hospital admission for acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure and stroke (composite end-point) among residents aged >or=65 years in intervention and control communities, using routinely collected, population-based administrative health data.
This paper highlights considerations in design, implementation and evaluation of a large-scale, community-wide cardiovascular health promotion initiative.
Use of the serum creatinine concentration, the most widely used marker of kidney function, has been associated with under-reporting of chronic kidney disease and late referral to nephrologists, especially among women and elderly people. To improve appropriateness of referrals, automatic reporting of the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) by laboratories was introduced in the province of Ontario, Canada, in March 2006. We hypothesized that such reporting, along with an ad hoc educational component for primary care physicians, would increase the number of appropriate referrals.
We conducted a population-based before-after study with interrupted time-series analysis at a tertiary care centre. All referrals to nephrologists received at the centre during the year before and the year after automatic reporting of the eGFR was introduced were eligible for inclusion. We used regression analysis with autoregressive errors to evaluate whether such reporting by laboratories, along with ad hoc educational activities for primary care physicians, had an impact on the number and appropriateness of referrals to nephrologists.
A total of 2672 patients were included in the study. In the year after automatic reporting began, the number of referrals from primary care physicians increased by 80.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] 74.8% to 86.9%). The number of appropriate referrals increased by 43.2% (95% CI 38.0% to 48.2%). There was no significant change in the proportion of appropriate referrals between the two periods (-2.8%, 95% CI -26.4% to 43.4%). The proportion of elderly and female patients who were referred increased after reporting was introduced.
The total number of referrals increased after automatic reporting of the eGFR began, especially among women and elderly people. The number of appropriate referrals also increased, but the proportion of appropriate referrals did not change significantly. Future research should be directed to understanding the reasons for inappropriate referral and to develop novel interventions for improving the referral process.
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No primary practice care model has been shown to be superior in achieving high-quality primary care. We aimed to identify the organizational characteristics of primary care practices that provide high-quality primary care.
We performed a cross-sectional observational study involving a stratified random sample of 37 primary care practices from 3 regions of Quebec. We recruited 1457 patients who had 1 of 2 chronic care conditions or 1 of 6 episodic care conditions. The main outcome was the overall technical quality score. We measured organizational characteristics by use of a validated questionnaire and the Team Climate Inventory. Statistical analyses were based on multilevel regression modelling.
The following characteristics were strongly associated with overall technical quality of care score: physician remuneration method (27.0; 95% confidence interval [CI] 19.0-35.0), extent of sharing of administrative resources (7.6; 95% CI 0.8-14.4), presence of allied health professionals (15.3; 95% CI 5.4-25.2) and/or specialist physicians (19.6; 95% CI 8.3-30.9), the presence of mechanisms for maintaining or evaluating competence (7.7; 95% CI 3.0-12.4) and average organizational access to the practice (4.9; 95% CI 2.6-7.2). The number of physicians (1.2; 95% CI 0.6-1.8) and the average Team Climate Inventory score (1.3; 95% CI 0.1-2.5) were modestly associated with high-quality care.
We identified a common set of organizational characteristics associated with high-quality primary care. Many of these characteristics are amenable to change through practice-level organizational changes.
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