Original Research

How far does family physician supply correlate with district health system performance?

Robin E. Dyers, Robert Mash, Tracey Naledi
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 7, No 1 | a796 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v7i1.796 | © 2015 Robin E. Dyers, Robert Mash, Tracey Naledi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 November 2014 | Published: 19 June 2015

About the author(s)

Robin E. Dyers, Division of Community Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University and Health Programmes, Western Cape Government: Health, South Africa
Robert Mash, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Tracey Naledi, Health Programmes, Western Cape Government: Health, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Since 2011, a new cadre of family physicians, with 4 years of postgraduate training, was deployed in the district health services of the Western Cape, and tasked witha considerable range of duties aimed at a general improvement in care and health outcomes. There is a need to evaluate the contribution of these family physicians to the district health system.

Aim: To develop a methodology for describing the correlation between family physician supply and district health system performance, clinical processes and outcomes, and to measure this correlation at baseline.

Method: A cross-sectional study was undertaken that analysed data at an ecological level for the period of 01 April 2011 to 31 March 2012. This was a pilot project analysing data from the first year of a 4-year project. The correlations between family physician supply and 18 health system indicators were assessed within a logic model. The supplies of other categories of staff were also measured.

Results: Although most of the correlations with family physicians were positive, the study was unable to demonstrate any strong or statistically significant correlations at baseline. There were significant correlations with other categories of staff.

Conclusions: This study developed a methodology for monitoring the relationship between family physician supply using routinely collected indicators of health system performance, clinical processes and outcomes over time. Additional research will also be needed to investigate the impact of family physicians and triangulate findings as this methodology has many limitations and potential confounding factors.


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