Table of Contents
International Journal of Family Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 967230, 11 pages
Research Article

An Algorithm Using Administrative Data to Identify Patient Attachment to a Family Physician

1Direction de Santé Publique du Centre Intégré Universitaire de Santé et Services Sociaux du Centre-Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, 1301 rue Sherbrooke E., Montréal, QC, Canada H2L 1M3
2Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, 3480 rue Saint-Urbain, Hôtel-Dieu (Pavillon Masson), Montréal, QC, Canada H4W 1Y1
3Institut de Recherche en Santé Publique de l’Université de Montréal, 7101 avenue du Parc, Montréal, QC, Canada H3N 1X9
4Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec, 945 avenue Wolfe, Québec, QC, Canada G1V 5B3
5Faculté des Sciences Infirmières, Université de Montréal (Pavillon Marguerite d’Youville), C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7
6Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, 1020 Avenue des Pins Ouest, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1A2

Received 23 June 2015; Revised 4 August 2015; Accepted 9 August 2015

Academic Editor: Carolyn Chew-Graham

Copyright © 2015 Sylvie Provost et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Commonly self-reported questions in population health surveys, such as “do you have a family physician?”, represent one of the best-known sources of information about patients’ attachment to family physicians. Is it possible to find a proxy for this information in administrative data? Objective. To identify the type of patient attachment to a family physician using administrative data. Methods. Using physician fee-for-service database and patients enrolment registries (Quebec, Canada, 2008–2010), we developed a step-by-step algorithm including three dimensions of the physician-patient relationship: patient enrolment with a physician, complete annual medical examinations (CME), and concentration of visits to a physician. Results. 68.1% of users were attached to a family physician; for 34.4% of them, attachment was defined by enrolment with a physician, for 31.5%, by CME without enrolment, and, for 34.1%, by concentration of visits to a physician without enrolment or CME. Eight types of patient attachment were described. Conclusion. When compared to findings with survey data, our measure comes out as a solid conceptual framework to identify patient attachment to a family physician in administrative databases. This measure could be of great value for physician/patient-based cohort development and impact assessment of different types of patient attachment on health services utilization.