Family physicians deliver a range of services within preventive patient care. Preventive care is provided on an individual basis, generally in an opportunistic manner. However, it is widely accepted that applying a population-based approach would result in more effective and measurable preventive outcomes, and the community-based approach in primary care is central to the principles of family medicine.public health units and family physicians work ing together could provide a spectrum of primary health care services and health promotion interventions. This paper describes the development of a collaborative working initiative between the two groups and two new programs that have developed. The collaboration should be further explored in primary care reform in Canada.
Enhancing primary care
Each community in Ontario is served by a public health unit, which has a mandate to provide health protection, health promotion, and disease prevention services for all residents in their districts. In 1995 the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Public Health Department (RPHD), a teaching health unit affiliated with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont, and the University of Guelph in Ontario, began to examine opportunities for partnering with family physicians. At the same time the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University had been funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health to develop a primary health care program that, among other priorities, explored how collaborative relationships with public health could enhance primary care.