Socioeconomic Factors Affect High Health Care Utilization

Laura Rosella, PhD MHSc Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto Scientist, Public Health Ontario Adjunct Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences Toronto, OntarioMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Laura Rosella, PhD MHSc

Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
Scientist, Public Health Ontario
Adjunct Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
Toronto, Ontario

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: High-cost users of health care generally refer to the top five per cent of health care users. They are a small portion of the population who consume a disproportionately high share of health care resources. We undertook a study to explore the social and economic determinants that were associated with future, high cost users. That is, the characteristics of these individuals before they proceed on a trajectory of high health care utilization. By understanding these associations we can better understand the role that socio-economic factors play in future health care utilizations and costs.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: In our study we demonstrated that individual, household and neighbourhood socio-economic , such as income, education and food security, increase the likelihood of becoming a high-cost users in the future.  This demonstrates that the issue of high-cost users is rooted not only in declining health status and suboptimal health care, but also in the growing inequities in Canadian society. Ultimately, looking at the broader factors that lead people to become high-cost users is crucial to improving population health, health system sustainability and equitable quality of care.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: In order to improve health outcomes and potentially mitigate high health care costs, factors must be addressed from within and outside the health care system. Inequities in socio-economic status and health are at the core of public health; using collaborative, intersectoral approaches and policies will allow us to address high-cost users of health care by aligning public health and health care goals.

Citation:

Am J Prev Med. 2015 Aug;49(2):161-71. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.02.018. Epub 2015 May 8.

Looking Beyond Income and Education: Socioeconomic Status Gradients Among Future High-Cost Users of Health Care.

Fitzpatrick T1, Rosella LC2, Calzavara A3, Petch J4, Pinto AD5, Manson H6, Goel V7, Wodchis WP8.

 

Laura Rosella, PhD MHSc (2015). Socioeconomic Factors Affect High Health Care Utilization 

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