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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 22, Issue 7, Pages 621-626
Original Article

Wait Time for Endoscopic Evaluation at a Canadian Tertiary Care Centre: Comparison with Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Targets

Derek Yu,1 Wilma M Hopman,2 and William G Paterson1

1Gastrointestinal Diseases Research Unit and Department of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
2Clinical Research Centre, Kingston General Hospital and Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Received 11 April 2008; Accepted 13 April 2008

Copyright © 2008 Canadian Association of Gastroenterology. This open-access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (CC BY-NC) (, which permits reuse, distribution, and reproduction of the article, provided that the original work is properly cited and the reuse is restricted to noncommercial purposes.


BACKGROUND: In recent years, there has been considerable concern regarding wait times for Canadian health care, which led the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) to develop specific wait time targets.

OBJECTIVES: To quantify wait times for endoscopic procedures at a tertiary care centre and correlate these with clinical presentation, impact on quality of life (QOL) and final diagnosis; and to determine how well the CAG wait time targets are being met.

METHODS: Patients completed a 12-item questionnaire regarding wait times and their impact on QOL. A blind review was performed of the endoscopic results, with a specific focus on correlating wait time with a final diagnosis of serious and treatable diseases.

RESULTS: The average total wait time for the 417 participants in the present study was 229 days; 78.6% did not meet CAG wait time targets. The wait time for screening colonoscopy was longer, and the proportion of patients meeting wait time targets was significantly smaller, than for patients referred with iron deficiency anemia or a positive fecal occult blood test result. The 41 patients deemed to have a high-impact diagnosis established by endoscopy had a median wait time of 115 days, and only 23.5% met wait time targets. Overall, 38.4% of patients believed that their wait was too long, 13.9% missed school or work in the preceding month because of gastrointestinal symptoms and 23% reported being very worried about having a serious disease.

CONCLUSIONS: The majority of patients waiting for endoscopy did not meet CAG wait time targets, with the screening colonoscopy group faring the worst. Many of these patients await a definitive diagnosis of serious diseases that negatively impact QOL.