Medical oncology workload in Canada: infrastructure, supports, and delivery of clinical care

A. Fundytus, W.M. Hopman, N. Hammad, J.J. Biagi, R. Sullivan, V. Vanderpuye, B. Seruga, G. Lopes, M. Sengar, M.D. Brundage, C.M. Booth



In 2000, a Canadian task force recommended that medical oncologists (mos) meet a target of 160–175 new patient consultations per year. Here, we report the Canadian results of a global survey of mo workload compared with mo workload in other high-income countries (hics).


Using a snowball method, an online survey was distributed by national oncology societies to chemotherapy-prescribing physicians in 22 hics (World Bank criteria). The survey was distributed within Canada to all members of the Canadian Association of Medical Oncologists. Workload was measured as the annual number of new cancer patient consults per oncologist.


The survey was completed by 782 oncologists from hics, including 58 from Canada. Median annual consults per mo were 175 in Canada compared with 125 in other hics. The proportions of mos having 100 or fewer consults or more than 300 consults per year were 3% (2/58) and 5% (3/58) in Canada compared with 31% (222/724) and 16% (116/724) in other hics (p < 0.001 and p = 0.023 respectively). The median number of patients seen in a full-day clinic was 15 in Canada and 25 in other hics (p = 0.220). Canadian mos reported spending a median of 55 minutes per new consultation; new consultations of 35 minutes were reported in other hics (p < 0.001). Median hours worked per week was 55 in Canada and 45 in other hics (p = 0.200).


Although the median annual clinical volume for Canadian mos aligns with recommended targets, half the respondents exceeded that level of activity. Health policymakers and educators have to consider mo workforce supply and alternative models of care in preparation for the anticipated surge in cancer incidence in the coming decade.


Medical oncology; workforce; care delivery

Full Text:



Copyright © 2019 Multimed Inc.
ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)