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Going to the doctor

By Alice Nabalamba, Health Statistics Division, and Wayne J. Millar, formerly with that division





This article, based on the Andersen model, describes patterns of consultation with general practitioners (GPs) and specialists among Canadians aged 18 or older.  Associations with health status and other factors are examined.

Data sources

Estimates are based on data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), cycle 3.1.

Analytical techniques

Cross-tabulations were used to estimate the proportion of adult Canadians who had had a GP consultation, four or more GP consultations, or a specialist consultation in the previous year.  Adjusted logistic regression models were used to examine factors associated with such consultations when the effects of health need were taken into account.

Main results

In 2005, 77% of Canadians aged 18 to 64 and 88% of seniors reported that they had consulted a GP in the previous year; 25% and 44%, respectively, had done so four or more times; and 27% and 34% had consulted a specialist.  Individual health need, as measured by the presence of chronic conditions and self-reported general and mental health, was a strong determinant of service use.  However, when need was taken into account, physician consultations were independently associated with age, sex, household income, race, language, urban/rural residence and having a regular family doctor.  Seniors aged 75 or older and rural residents had low odds of specialist consultations, but high odds of four or more GP consultations.  Visible minorities and Aboriginal people had lower odds of reporting specialist consultations than did Whites.


  • health services
  • health status
  • racial background
  • socio-economic status
  • language
  • regular family physician


  • Alice Nabalamba, Health Statistics Division
    Statistics Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0T6
    Telephone: (613) 951-7188

  • Wayne J. Millar, formerly with that division


The Canada Health Act, which was adopted in 1984, mandates universal rights of access to publicly funded medically necessary health care, free of financial or other barriers.  No one may be discriminated against on the basis of factors such as income, age and health status. [Full text]


Estimates are based on data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), cycle 3.1.  The CCHS covers the household population aged 12 or older in all provinces and territories, except members of the regular Forces and residents of institutions, Indian reserves, Canadian Forces bases, and some remote areas.  Data for cycle 3.1 were collected between January and December 2005 from a sample of 132,947 persons.  The response rate was 79%.  More information about the CCHS is available in a published report. [Full text]


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