The 123 parliamentary bodies included in the present study encompass 96 nations, including 38 in Europe (38 of 43 total, 88%), 24 in Asia (24/47, 50%), 11 in North America (11/23, 48%), 10 in Africa (10/54, 19%), 8 in Oceania (8/14, 57%), and 5 in South America (5/12, 38%) (Fig. 1).
Of these 123 bodies, 18 (15%) reported no physician members. These included the unicameral chambers of Andorra, Denmark, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, San Marino, the Seychelles, Tonga, and Vanuatu, as well as the Senates of Australia, Belgium, Grenada, and the Philippines, the National Councils of Bhutan and Slovenia, and the Chamber of Deputies of Rwanda. The Senate of the Dominican Republic was the legislative body with the highest proportion of seats occupied by physicians (5 of 32, 15.6%), while the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was home to the greatest total number of physicians (44 of 600, 7.3%) (Fig. 2).
Physician representation differed across regions (p = 0.01 by Kruskal-Wallis H-test), driven primarily by lower representation in Africa (mean: 2.8%, IQR: 1.8% to 3.9%) and Oceania (1.6%, 0.0–2.7%), relative to North America (5.7%, 3.2–7.3%), South America (5.0%, 3.3–6.6%), Asia (4.5%, 2.7–6.4%), and Europe (4.3%, 1.2–5.8%). There was no relationship between the number of physicians in parliament and either the number of physicians per 1000 population (p=0.57) or healthcare expenditures as a percentage of GDP (p=0.89), and only a weak, negative association between physician membership and government healthcare spending per capita (Pearson’s r=−0.23, p=0.02).