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Healthc Policy. 2009 Aug;5(1):87-101.

Reasons for self-reported unmet healthcare needs in Canada: a population-based provincial comparison.

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Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Health System Performance Research Network, Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.


In this study, we compare self-perceived unmet need across Canadian provinces and assess how the reasons for unmet need - problems with availability, accessibility and acceptability - vary. This cross-sectional study uses data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (2.1) conducted in 2003. Overall, 11.7% perceived having had unmet healthcare needs in the previous 12 months. The adjusted provincial rates varied from 13.3% in Manitoba to 7.8% in Prince Edward Island. Among those reporting unmet health service needs, the leading reason was problems of availability of services (54.9%), followed by acceptability (42.8%) and accessibility related to cost or transportation (12.7%). Unmet need due to problems of availability was most likely in Quebec, Newfoundland and Manitoba, while Alberta and British Columbia had the highest likelihood of unmet need due to accessibility problems. Those in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were more likely to report problems of acceptability. The reasons for unmet need vary across provinces, with each reason having different policy implications.


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