Does specialist physician supply affect pediatric asthma health outcomes?

Variation in pediatrician and pediatric subspecialist density exists amongst various Canadian provinces as well states in the USA, but does this variability contribute to health outcomes of the pediatric population? The study was led by Dr. Guido Filler and conducted by an interdisciplinary team of researchers, including Dr. Jason Gilliland of the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory (HEAL) and Department of Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre. The study focus included the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to assess pediatric asthma admission rates. This was conducted as a means to study the relationship between specialist physician supply (in this case, pediatric asthma specialists) distribution and health outcomes.

This retrospective cross-sectional cohort study utilized peer groups as classified by Statistics Canada which were based on common socio-economic characteristics and socio-demographic determinants of health. National and provincial health databases allowed for the generation of physician density maps of general practitioners and general pediatricians that were practicing in the two provinces in 2011. It was found that for a 100,000 child population, Manitoba had 48.6 pediatricians while Saskatchewan had 23.5 pediatricians. Moreover, Manitoba had 3.1 pediatric asthma specialists out of this 100,000 child population whereas Saskatchewan had 1.4, which was especially shocking because a significantly greater amount of patients were admitted in Saskatchewan than Manitoba (590.3 compared to 309.3). Despite Saskatchewan having higher pediatric asthma admission rates than Manitoba, there were less available general pediatricians and pediatric asthma specialists available, which suggests there is an inverse relationship present between asthma admissions and pediatrician and asthma specialist supply.

“Does specialist physician supply affect pediatric asthma health outcomes?” was published in BMC Health Services Research.

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Keywords: General practitioners, Health manpower/trends; Pediatric; Physicians/supply and distribution


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