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I think segmenting physicians into at least two categories would be helpful. GP or Family Dr and specialist. a rising share of specialist would likely be closely related to rising costs even with flat numbers per 100,000 pop.

Good point Chris.

One thing of interest would the interaction of GP/FD or Specialist with expenditure to see if outcomes are improved by having more specialists, even after controlling for expenditure levels. If possible, a dummy variable for the country being considered may be useful, particularly if time series data is available for the set of countries under consideration.

> Does having more physicians per capita at first simply result in many more cases of cancer being diagnosed and treated which then results in higher mortality rates?

There's also a "you have to die of something" factor. Hypothetically, improved medical care could improve survival rates from other conditions such that more people live long enough to get diagnosable cancer. There's also inevitable methodological problems with lumping "cancer" as a diagnosis, since some varieties are much more receptive to treatment than others, and the mix of dominant cancers is not necessarily uniform between nations.

Health care policy in nations with very high numbers of docs is different enough that I am not sure you can infer much just from the difference in the number of docs.


One thing to consider is how many hours physicians work. However many years ago, doctors were mostly male and worked more hours. Now a large fraction of new doctors are women who may work less in child-raising age. (My old GP was an example of that. She is now practicing full time, but she took a chunk of time off.)

Given also that the macho nonsense of residents and young doctors working 80 hours/week is being scaled back (thank heavens) it takes more docs than it used to to do the same work.

Anecdotal sure, but I found the benefit I got at the margins in health care services for me and my family came from nurses and nurse practitioners who could help the doctors.

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