Most Canadians receive basic health services from family physicians who play an important role in chronic disease management. Canada, however, has an endemic shortage of family physicians and consequently, a large population of unattached patients. Physician scarcity is particularly acute in rural regions, leaving patients transitioning between family physicians at risk for not readily finding a new doctor. To ensure patient-centred solutions to this barrier to care, policymakers need to inform their responses with an understanding of the patient experience. This qualitative study explores the experiences of chronically ill, rurally situated Canadian women transitioning between family physicians with the goal of providing insight into how the system supports these patients. The study reveals the presence of a multi-phase transitioning trajectory. Participants’ accounts indicate that efforts to attach to a regular family physician were hindered by the lack of available doctors and by gaps in system support within each transitioning phase.
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Thesis advisor: Crooks, Valorie A.
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