Family physicians and health advocacy: Is it really a difficult fit? Journal Articles uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • OBJECTIVE: To examine whether family medicine residents and faculty members appreciate the full spectrum of health advocacy as described in articles published in Canadian Family Physician in 2016 and to identify the perceived challenges and enablers of advocating across the entire spectrum. DESIGN: Analysis of a subset of data from a qualitative study using semistructured interviews and focus groups. SETTING: University of Toronto in Ontario. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 9 family medicine faculty members and 6 family medicine residents. METHODS: A subset of transcripts from a 2015 qualitative study that explored family medicine and psychiatry residents' and faculty members' understanding of the CanMEDS-Family Medicine health advocate role were reviewed, guided by interpretive descriptive methodology. MAIN FINDINGS: Results indicated that family medicine physicians and residents were able to identify the full spectrum of advocacy described in the Canadian Family Physician articles and that they valued the role. Further, there was widespread agreement that being a health advocate was linked with their identities as health professionals. The time it takes to be a health advocate was seen as a barrier to being effective in the role, and the work was seen as extremely challenging owing to system constraints. Participants also described a gap in training relating to advocacy at the system level as a challenge. CONCLUSION: Team-based care was seen as one of the most important enablers for becoming involved in the full spectrum of advocacy, as was time for personal reflection.


  • Bernard, Carrie
  • Soklaridis, Sophie
  • Paton, Morag
  • Fung, Kenneth
  • Fefergrad, Mark
  • Andermann, Lisa
  • Johnson, Andrew
  • Ferguson, Genevieve
  • Iglar, Karl
  • Whitehead, Cynthia R

publication date

  • July 2019