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Canadian Research

HSI’s Canadian research focuses on three main areas: primary care, health care utilization by older adults, and social inequalities in diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Addressing challenges to the Canadian health care system requires answering three fundamental questions: First, is the health care system accessible to all Canadians? Second, how healthy are Canadians under the current system? Third, is the system sustainable going forward, given foreseeable constraints? To explore the questions listed above, the HSI team launched in January 2013 three specific research projects described below.

Primary Health Care Accessibility in Canada: Trends, Health Outcomes, and Policy Solutions

Primary care physicians are the first point of contact for Canadians that use the health care system. The objectives of this project are to examine primary care accessibility in Canada over time, investigate the relationship between primary care accessibility and specific health outcomes, and identify policies that enhance primary care accessibility.

Social Inequalities in diabetes morbidity and mortality

Our preliminary analyses utilizing the CCHS confirm that the burden of diabetes has increased dramatically over the past decade, as have social inequalities in disease prevalence. Policies that affect the social determinants of health may reduce diabetes incidence; however, few studies have investigated these associations. The aims of this project are to describe trends in social inequalities in diabetes across provinces and over time and to identify strategies for reducing the burden of diabetes among vulnerable populations.

Social policy approaches to optimize health care utilization by Canadian seniors

Given falling population growth rates in Canada and several other countries, demographers project that the ratio of seniors to workers will rise in coming years. While the resulting higher demand and weakening revenue base will increase health cost pressures, our team also found that concurrently increasing social isolation has dramatic health cost implications. The objective of this project is to assess the costs of social isolation of older adults on health and social systems and evaluate Canadian policies that increase social support for older adults. The HSI team has identified empirical strategies for evaluating social isolation utilizing the CCHS, among other data sources.

Work-family policies, early childhood development, health, and social inequalities

The changing composition of families and the work force has led to a number of policy innovations in Canada to alter the balance of parental care and advance early childhood education. Within Canada, the ensuing policy instruments have taken a distinct nature in Quebec, which has introduced both a more generous and accessible parental leave program and universal publicly funded childcare program. As part of a policy agenda to combat social inequality and poverty, there is further potential for such policies to mitigate social inequalities in health and development outcomes in children. The HSI team has taken an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the distribution of health and developmental outcomes of these programs, and to analyze the degree to which they have contributed to greater health equity in Quebec.