TORONTO, February 26, 2019 — Getting an appointment with a psychiatrist is difficult for Ontarians according to a new study by researchers at ICES, University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), because nearly one third of full-time psychiatrists see less than two new patients a month.
The study published today in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, shows Ontario psychiatrists fall into three distinct practice types based on the volume of patients they see and the number of new patients they accept on a monthly basis. The researchers examined administrative health data on all practicing full-time psychiatrists (1,170) in Ontario during a five-year period (2009 to 2014).
“In one predominately urban practice style, providers see an average of 70 unique outpatients per year. Psychiatrists in this practice style are also less likely to see patients who had a psychiatric hospitalization discharge in the previous year, patients who lived in low-income neighbourhoods, and patients who were immigrants,” says David Rudoler, lead author of the study, an assistant professor at UOIT and fellow at ICES.
However, the researchers point out that the majority of psychiatrists practice in two other practice styles: one predominately urban high-volume practise with a complex patient group where the psychiatrist sees two new patients a week. The other group of psychiatrists is predominately rural, also with high-volume practices consisting of complex patients, and are more accessible to new patients with one new patient daily.
“Our study shows a significant variation in psychiatrist practice style that has implications for access to care, particularly for newly-diagnosed patients. Barriers to care for new patients, many of whom may be vulnerable and in urgent need of care, is problematic because previous research has shown that rapid access to such care may reduce relapse and re-hospitalization,” says Dr. Paul Kurdyak, senior author and scientist at CAMH and ICES.
Author block: David Rudoler, Claire de Oliveira, Juveria Zaheer and Paul Kurdyak.
The report “Closed for business? Using a mixture model to explore the supply of psychiatric care for new patients,” is published in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.
ICES is an independent, non-profit research institute that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of health care issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting health care needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy. In October 2018, the institute formerly known as the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences formally adopted the initialism ICES as its official name. For the latest ICES news, follow us on Twitter: @ICESOntario
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