Family Medicine Groups, implemented in Quebec in 2002, are interprofessional primary care teams designed to improve timely access to high-quality primary care. This study investigates whether Family Medicine Groups increased rates of guideline-recommended screenings for 3 chronic diseases: colorectal cancer (colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy), breast cancer (mammography), and osteoporosis (bone mineral density testing).
Using population-based administrative health data from the provincial insurer (2000–2010), the authors examined elderly and chronically ill patients who registered with a general practitioner in the first 15 months of the Family Medicine Group policy. Propensity score weighting and a difference-in-differences model estimated differential change in biennial screening rates among Family Medicine Group and non-Family Medicine Group patients over 5 years of follow-up (analysis, 2016–2018).
Rates of mammography, colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy, and bone mineral density testing increased after patient registration with a general practitioner, similarly for both Family Medicine Group and non-Family Medicine Group patients. Colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy rates increased by 9.7% and 10.4% for Family Medicine Group and non-Family Medicine Group patients, mammography rates by 5.3% and 3.4%, and bone mineral density testing by 4.2% and 7.1%. Difference-in-differences estimates showed no detectable effect of Family Medicine Groups on disease screening rates: −0.06 percentage points (95% CI= −0.32, 0.20) for colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy, 1.01 percentage points (95% CI= −0.25, 2.27) for mammography, and −0.32 (95% CI= −0.71, −0.07) for bone mineral density testing.
This study found no evidence that Family Medicine Groups affected screening rates for these 3 chronic diseases. Limitations in the implementation of the Family Medicine Group policy in its early years may have contributed to this lack of impact. Interprofessional primary care teams may need to include elements other than organizational changes to increase disease prevention efforts.
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