Do Patients Retain their Family Physicians after Long-Term Care Entry? A Retrospective Cohort Study
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OBJECTIVE: Older adults value and benefit from the long-standing relationship they have with their family physicians. This dynamic has not been researched in a long-term care (LTC, ie, nursing home) setting. We sought to determine the proportion of LTC residents who retain their community family physician within the first 180 days of LTC, and the resident, physician, and LTC home factors that may influence retention. DESIGN: Population-based retrospective cohort study. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Individuals from Ontario, Canada, aged 60 years or older who were newly admitted to a LTC home between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2017. METHODS: Residents were indexed upon LTC admission, and their data was linked across ICES databases. Residents were matched to their rostered family physician, and physician retention was defined as having at least 1 visit by their matched physician within 0 to 90 days and 90 to 180 days of LTC admission. RESULTS: Out of 50,089 LTC residents, 12.1% retained their family physicians post-LTC admission. Resident factors associated with reduced odds of retention included physical impairment [odds ratio OR (95% confidence interval, CI) = 0.59 (0.42‒0.83)], cognitive impairment [0.39 (0.33‒0.47)], and a dementia diagnosis [0.80 (0.74‒0.86)]. Physician factors associated with lower retention included a greater distance from the LTC home to the family physician's clinic [30+ kilometers 0.41 (0.35‒0.48)], having a physician who is female [0.90 (0.83‒0.98)], an international medical graduate [0.89 (0.81‒0.97)] or someone who practices in a capitation-based Family Health Organization [0.86 (0.78‒0.95)]. Factors associated with greater odds of retention were residing in a rural LTC home [2.23 (1.78‒2.79)], having a rural family physician [1.70 (1.52‒1.90)], or a family physician who has billed LTC fee codes in the past year [2.64 (2.45‒2.85)]. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Few LTC residents retained their family physician post-LTC admission, underscoring this healthcare transition as a breakdown point in relational continuity. Factors that influenced retention included resident health, LTC home geography, and family physician demographics and practice patterns.