Do health service organizations and community health centres have higher disease prevention and health promotion levels than fee-for-service practices?
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We interviewed health care providers representing 23 fee-for-service (FFS) practices, 19 health service organizations (HSOs) and 11 community health centres (CHCs) in Ontario to compare self-reported approaches to disease prevention and health promotion. Few significant differences were found across practice types in the presence of recall systems for screening or in knowledge of, compliance with or estimated coverage for selected preventive maneuvers recommended by the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination. CHCs reported a significantly greater variety of formal health promotion programs and a greater tendency to use nonphysician health care personnel to carry out both prevention and health promotion activities. The results must be interpreted with caution because of the use of self-reported data, the low response rate for FFS practices and the use of a restrictive definition of disease prevention tied to evidence from the reports of the task force. Thus, the results cast some doubt on the common assumption that increasing the population served by alternative modes of delivery such as HSOs and CHCs necessarily increases the level of disease prevention and health promotion activity.
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