A study done by the Canadian Institute for Health Information to examine the work practices of family doctors across Canada has revealed that fewer family doctors are providing obstetrical care compared with 10 years ago while the number providing mental health care to their patients remains high.
Family physician's fee-for-service data from all provinces from April 1994 to April 2003 was examined in the study done by the Ottawa-based institute.
The study found that number of female doctors providing obstetrical care dropped from 27% in 1994 to 16% in 2003, while in case of male practitioners the numbers dropped from 26% in 1994 to 13% in 2003. Unlike obstetrical care, the number of male and female doctors providing mental health care services remained high with 87% of female doctors and 83% of male doctors providing mental health services.
The study found that more family physicians were specializing in particular areas of their practice rather than offering a complete array of health services.
Dr. John Maxted of the College of Family Physicians of Canada said that these trends have to be factored in as provinces make changes to health care and added that ways must be found to alleviate shortage of family doctors.
Maxted also said that family health teams should have a mix of female and male doctors, as well as those with a varying set of skills, to ensure patients have "one-stop shopping."
Director of Health Resource Information, Francine Anne Roy, said that the data in the study provided province-by-province information, which the governments and health agencies across the province should make use of to make changes needed to support family physicians.