Why Health Care Renewal Matters: Learning from Canadians with Chronic Health Conditions

Why Health Care Renewal Matters: Learning from Canadians with Chronic Health Conditions
A H E A LT H O U T C O M E S R E P O R T
Why Health Care Renewal Matters:
Learning from Canadians
with Chronic Health Conditions
D E CE M B E R 2 0 0 7
CONTENTS
02
Executive summary
13
1: Why report on the health status of Canadians
and health outcomes?
15
2: Why care about chronic health conditions?
A case for action
23
3: Health promotion and disease prevention –
How are we doing?
33
4: Quality of chronic illness care – How are we doing?
47
5: Preventing and managing chronic health conditions –
How can we do better?
54
Acknowledgements
54
List of figures
55
About the Health Council of Canada
Production of this report has been made possible through a financial
contribution from Health Canada. The views expressed herein represent
the views of the Health Council of Canada acting within its sole
authority and not under the control or supervision of Health Canada.
This publication does not necessarily represent the views of Health
Canada or any provincial or territorial government.
To reach the Health Council of Canada:
Suite 900, 90 Eglinton Avenue East
Toronto, ON M4P 2Y3
Telephone: 416.481.7397
Fax: 416.481.1381
[email protected]
www.healthcouncilcanada.ca
Why Health Care Renewal Matters:
Learning from Canadians with Chronic Health Conditions
December 2007
ISBN 978-1-897463-16-1
How to cite this publication:
Health Council of Canada. (2007). Why Health Care Renewal Matters:
Learning from Canadians with Chronic Health Conditions. Toronto:
Health Council. www.healthcouncilcanada.ca.
Contents of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part
provided the intended use is for non-commercial purposes and full
acknowledgement is given to the Health Council of Canada.
© 2007 Health Council of Canada
Cette publication est aussi disponsible en français.
m o r e t h a n n i n e m i l l i o n c a na d i a n s , or one-third
of youth and adults in Canada, have one or more chronic health
conditions – long-term problems such as arthritis, diabetes,
cancer, and heart disease. These conditions affect well-being and
quality of life and represent a significant, and growing, health
care and economic burden for Canada.
executive summary
p r e v e n t i n g a n d m a nag i n g chronic health conditions
is everybody’s business. To a great extent, chronic health
conditions are rooted in the way we live. A handful of avoidable
risk factors – things that we can change, such as overweight,
physical inactivity, poor eating habits, and smoking – feed our
current epidemic. Sustained programs and supportive policies
that enable people to reduce these and other risk factors
are smart investments in Canada’s future. For those who already
have chronic illness, access to high-quality health care can help
patients prevent complications, reduce the future need for
expensive health services, and secure a better quality of life.
u lt i m at e ly, t h e nat u r e a n d pac e of efforts to provide
better health promotion, disease prevention, and chronic
illness care will be determined by the Canadian public and
their influence with elected officials at all levels of government.
For meaningful progress to occur, interested Canadians need
to be engaged in identifying priorities, problems, and potential
solutions. In turn, governments want to learn from the
“Chronic non-communicable diseases ... must urgently receive more resources, research
and attention ... Inaction is costing millions of premature deaths throughout the world.”
Grand challenges in chronic non-communicable diseases, Nature, 22 November 2007
experiences and expectations of Canadians and to demonstrate
that health care renewal is moving in the right direction.
therefore, in this rep ort we turn to Canadians living
with chronic health conditions to learn from them about
their experiences with care, and we turn to governments to learn
about activities now underway to prevent chronic illness
and improve care.
>
We use information from a Statistics Canada survey of 133,000
adults in 2005 to learn about the health and lifestyles of
Canadians and how these relate to their use of health care.
>
We report on the findings of a public consultation we hosted
earlier this year to hear from a diverse group of close to
2,000 Canadians with chronic health conditions, mainly diabetes.
>
We commissioned a telephone survey of nearly 2,200
Canadians in 2007 to learn more about their experiences with
primary health care and chronic illness care, particularly
as they relate to priorities in health care renewal in this country.
>
The problems Canada faces are shared by countries worldwide,
“Reducing risk to health is the responsibility of governments – but not only governments.
It rightly remains a vital preoccupation of all people, in all populations, and of all those
who serve them.”
Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General, World Health Organization,
in The World Health Repor t 2002: Reducing Risks, Promoting Health
and so we worked with several other organizations to ask 3,000
Canadians and 9,000 adults in six other countries about their
experiences with primary health care and chronic illness care.
>
We juxtapose these first-hand accounts with governments’
promises to improve the situation and snapshots of current
efforts in health care renewal. We feature ActNow BC ,
a province-wide strategy that is using an all-of-government
approach and extensive partnerships to reduce risk factors
for chronic disease.
it ’ s imp ortant to note that these survey results describe
Canadians’ experiences in the last one to two years, but do
not necessarily reflect the impact of changes currently underway
in the health care system. It will take time before we see
the effect of current reforms on the health of Canadians and
their subsequent use of health care. Meanwhile, our survey
results can inform ongoing efforts to improve care and provide
a baseline to monitor how our health care system performs
in the future.
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
8
KEY FINDINGS AND COUNCIL ADVICE
A case for action
From Canadians with chronic health conditions,
we learned that:
> They experience a poorer quality of life: half of adults
with two or more chronic conditions report moderate
or severe disability in daily living.
> They use a large share of health care resources:
the one-third of Canadians with one or more of seven
high-impact, high-prevalence chronic conditions use
67% of all visits to community nurses, 51% of all visits
to family doctors, 55% of all visits to specialists, and
72% of nights spent in hospitals.
> There are serious gaps in the accessibility and quality
of their ongoing care.
> Canadians support public investments to improve
health and prevent disease.
The World Health Organization reviewed international
research and concluded that the negative impact of
many of the common risk factors for chronic disease
can be reversed quickly, that most benefits will accrue
within a decade, and that even modest changes in
risk factor levels can bring about large improvements
in the health of populations. In our first report on
health outcomes, Why Health Care Renewal Matters:
Lessons from Diabetes, we reviewed research evidence
and determined that even small improvements in the
quality of chronic illness care make a big difference in
improving health and reducing the need for future care.
Relatively simple actions, if adopted by many people,
could dramatically reduce risks to health and save
health care dollars. A recent Canadian study concluded
that if everyone lowered their consumption of salt
by less than one teaspoon a day, we could see a 30%
decrease in cases of high blood pressure (one of
the most prevalent chronic conditions), or one million
fewer Canadians with this condition. Direct cost
savings – from reduced need for physician visits,
laboratory tests, and medication to treat high blood
pressure – are estimated at $430 million per year.
Other Canadian research illustrates the important link
between social and physical environments and the risk
for chronic disease; for example, obesity tends to be
more common in smaller communities, and diabetes
rates in Toronto are higher in neighbourhoods where
people have to travel farther to buy fresh fruits and
vegetables. These circumstances require more complex
solutions involving many sectors of society.
(See also “A case for action” p.12.)
Promoting health and preventing chronic conditions
Using an internationally accepted standard for
enabling people to increase control over and improve
their health – the Ottawa Charter for Health
Promotion – we assess how well Canada is doing to:
> build healthy public policy;
> strengthen community actions to promote health;
> create supportive and healthy environments; and
> reorient health care services to support health and
prevent disease.
Canada’s governments are clearly investing in health
promotion and disease prevention. In many cases,
this work engages multiple partners (within and outside
of government) to magnify the impact of societal
investments that support health. Some of this work
addresses social determinants of health, which creates
conditions that can help Canadians make needed
changes in the way we live to reduce our risk for
chronic disease. Governments could do much more to
monitor and report on progress towards achieving
the country’s health goals by setting and reporting on
local targets.
“Money spent on fixing sick people may be necessary right now because we never focused on
prevention ... Please keep in mind that health care does not exist in isolation from everything else ...
it’s time to look at the big picture.”
Health Council of Canada’s public consultation on health care renewal and chronic illness, spring 2007
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
9
Are we making progress? Without more routine
monitoring and reporting about the results of these
activities, it’s difficult to say.
Are our investments sufficient? Probably not, particularly in comparison to what we spend on services for
sick patients. We fund failure (caring for people after
they get sick) rather than success (preventing avoidable
illness). Consider that the total expenditure on health
care was $141 billion in 2005 including $40 billion
on hospitals and $8.5 billion on public health. The lion’s
share of health care spending goes to care for people
with chronic health conditions. What if we funded
prevention more aggressively by spending $40 billion
on public health? Might we then, when more Canadians
enjoy better health and well-being, be able to spend
many fewer billions on illness care?
OUR ADVICE TO GOVERNMENTS
Invest in success by ramping up initiatives proven to prevent
chronic health conditions and their complications.
Adopt an all-of-government approach (in other words, all
ministries) to engage the full range of public policy that can
create the social and environmental conditions people need to
shift to healthier lifestyles. Create productive partnerships
with non-government organizations, local authorities, and industry
to harness collective efforts supportive of health. Routinely
measure and monitor the impact of these investments.
OUR ADVICE TO CANADIANS
Continue supporting public investments in healthy living.
Take responsibility for your own health and your family’s, but
also recognize that we need a massive cultural shift to slow the
rise of chronic disease in Canada. Many factors affect whether
or not people can make changes in the way they live, and
public policy can make or break people’s chances of success.
Improving the accessibility and quality of chronic
illness care
Using key principles in patient-centred care,
we assess how Canada is doing to ensure that:
> Canadians have access to needed care;
> patients are engaged in their care;
> care is coordinated;
> health care teams deliver integrated and
comprehensive care; and
> information about health care is publicly available.
The vast majority of Canadians with chronic health
conditions have a regular medical doctor or place
where they receive care (98%). More than 80% have
been going to the same doctor or clinic for at least
three years, including 59% who have used the same
provider for more than seven years, an indication of
good continuity of care.
But team care, which can make a difference in the
health of people with chronic conditions, is far from
the norm for Canadians. Only 33% of adults with
chronic health conditions report that a nurse is regularly involved in their care. Even fewer (18%) report
that another health care professional such as a dietitian
works in the place where they get ongoing care, though
people with chronic health conditions may get these
services elsewhere. These numbers are very similar for
Canadians without any of the seven select chronic
conditions covered in our surveys.
Getting timely appointments with their regular doctor
or clinic is too often difficult for patients with chronic
conditions, resulting in unnecessary trips to emergency.
Canada ranks among the worst (along with the U S )
of seven countries on some important dimensions of
access to care. Canadians who have chronic health
conditions experience:
> long waits for primary care (just 36% in Canada could
get same-day or next-day appointments vs. 60% or
more in five of the six other countries);
> high use of hospital emergency departments for any
reason in the past two years (45% in Canada vs.
24 – 36% in five of the six other countries); and
> high use of emergency departments for conditions that
could have been treated by their regular doctor (41%
in Canada vs. 20 – 32% in four of six other countries).
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
10
This is despite expanded hours of access to family
physicians in many Canadian communities and our
place as an international leader in the use of 24/7 telephone access to health information and advice. Other
factors, such as the inefficiency of scheduling systems,
likely underlie the long waits for appointments with
primary care providers. There is much that Canada can
learn from other countries about the use of proven
practices to improve timely access to a regular source
of care.
Reminders from doctors’ offices about the need for
follow-up care (39%) and referrals to services that can
help patients adopt healthier lifestyles (15%) remain
disturbingly uncommon in Canada, though they
should be standard practice for patients with chronic
health conditions. Though their need for assistance
may be greater, these patients are not much more likely
than Canadians without chronic conditions to get
advice or help from their regular health care provider
to change personal habits to improve their health.
In terms of financial barriers to care, Canada ranks
midway among seven countries. However, 10% of
Canadians with chronic conditions report they did not
fill a prescription or skipped a medication dose due
to costs in the past year.
Yet most Canadians with chronic health conditions
(74%) give a high rating to the overall quality of their
regular medical care. How should we make sense of
this apparent contradiction? It tells us that, based on
what most people know and expect from health care
providers, patients are satisfied with and express
confidence in the system. But it also tells us that many
people don’t yet appreciate how much better their
care could be.
Though Canadians with chronic conditions see health
care providers frequently (doctors at least four times
and nurses eight times a year, on average), troubling
questions remain about the quality of that care – a
greater concern than the number of times patients get
through the door or which door they use.
We’ve reported previously that too few Canadians with
diabetes, as a case example, do not receive the care
that experts recommend. Now, we’ve learned from
Canadians that chronic illness care in Canada is far
from being truly patient-centred. Patients with chronic
conditions generally feel their primary health care
providers communicate well (60 – 90%), but too few
report that their care providers regularly consider their
values and traditions (55%) and goals (34%); involve
them in decisions regarding treatment (50%); or offer
them a written plan for managing their own care (33%).
O U R A D V I C E T O G O V E R N M E N T S , H E A LT H C A R E
POLIC Y-MAKERS, MANAGERS, AND PROVIDERS
Invest in proven strategies that improve the quality
of care and engage people in managing their own chronic
health conditions.
This requires a shift from a “find it and fix it” culture to a “prevent
it, find it, manage it” mentality. We continue to recommend a
redesign of the traditional family doctor’s practice to introduce
teams, technology, and training for change that will help achieve
better care for patients with chronic health conditions and,
ultimately, better health outcomes. Across the country, efforts are
underway to reorient care to help Canadians better manage
and prevent chronic health conditions. These are encouraging
developments, but despite years of talk, we’re still in the early
stages of badly needed reform.
OUR ADVICE TO CANADIANS
Expect more from your health care system and the people
responsible for it.
Give permission to governments and the health care community
to invest now and invest heavily in strategies proven to be
cost-effective at improving health care. Canada can treat the
causes of our less-than-ideal care for chronic health conditions,
but it will require that you hold high expectations.
“ We have to be given the tools and confidence to do as much for ourselves as possible
in partnership with our health care practitioners.”
Health Council of Canada’s public consultation on health care renewal and chronic illness, spring 2007
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
11
Monitoring progress
Conclusion
Without better data, those responsible for health care
renewal – political leaders, health care policy-makers,
managers and health care providers – are working
in the dark. Without more transparency and public
reporting, Canadians will not be well-informed
about the results of these public investments, and
governments will find it increasingly difficult to
make informed decisions about investing in health.
This is the second in a series of reports in which the
Health Council of Canada examines health outcomes
as a marker of the effectiveness of our health care
system and the necessity of health care renewal. What
we’ve learned from Canadians strengthens the case
for immediate, comprehensive, and sustained action
to promote healthy living, prevent long-term health
problems, and improve care for people who have
chronic health conditions. Health care renewal matters
greatly to individuals whose health and well-being are
at stake, and it matters to everyone since we collectively
bear the health and economic burden of failure to do
what is possible. Collectively we could share in success
if we act together. We know what to do and how to
do it. As good stewards of public health and public
dollars, governments should lead and sustain efforts to
help Canadians maintain the best possible quality
of life and avoid unnecessary illness. Canadians understand that, without these investments, we jeopardize
our future health; with them, we help secure it.
Canada needs a surveillance, or information-tracking,
strategy that can integrate information about our
risks for poor health, the environments we live in, our
ability to get the care we need, the quality of the care
we receive, and the results of that care. A few provinces
have made great strides in developing this kind of
information system locally. The Public Health Agency
of Canada has made a commitment to develop a
coherent and integrated national surveillance system,
but each province and territory will need its own
information to manage its population’s health and
health care system.
O U R A D V I C E TO A L L O F C A N A DA’S G O V E R N M E N TS
Develop and use appropriate information systems that support
better tracking, research, and public reporting on chronic
health conditions and the results of investments to promote
health and improve Canadians’ access to high-quality chronic
illness care.
More available at www.healthcouncilcanada.ca
> Data supplements:
• Population Patterns of Chronic Health Conditions in Canada
• Canadians’ Experiences with Chronic Illness Care in 2007
> Health Care Renewal and Chronic Illness: Report on a
Public Consultation
Other reports on health and health outcomes from
the Health Council of Canada
> Why Health Care Renewal Matters: Lessons from Diabetes
(March 2007)
> Their Future Is Now: Healthy Choices for Canada’s Children
& Youth (June 2006)
> The Health Status of Canada’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit
Peoples (July 2005)
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
12
a case for action
There is much that public policy and health care can do to stop the rise in chronic health
conditions in Canada and to lessen the devastating consequences of chronic diseases among
people who have them. Here are our top 10 reasons to improve health promotion, disease
prevention, and chronic disease management in Canada.
1 The burden of chronic health conditions
5 Chronic conditions are more common
8 The quality of chronic illness care in
on Canadians, the health care system, and
among older Canadians (77% of people
Canada could be greatly improved: less
our economy is enormous and growing.
65 years or older have at least one chronic
than half of Canadians with diabetes,
Canadians with chronic conditions
condition), among some ethnic groups,
for example, get all the laboratory tests
account for over 70% of all nights spent
and among people with low income but
and procedures that experts recommend
in hospital.
cut across all ages and circumstances.
to prevent complications of the disease.
2 One in three adults in Canada, or close
6 The World Health Organization (WHO)
9 Underuse, overuse and inappropriate
to nine million people, report having
estimates that at least one-third of the
use of medications are ongoing concerns,
at least one of seven high-impact, high-
total economic and social burden of
and prescribing practices can vary
prevalence chronic conditions. More than
disease in developed countries is caused
widely across the country. Too few people
one-third of these people have multiple
by a handful of largely avoidable risks:
with diabetes, for example, receive
long-term health problems.
tobacco, alcohol, high blood pressure,
medications that are effective at preventing
high cholesterol, and obesity.
cardiovascular problems and more
3 Many people with chronic conditions
than half of people with diabetes have
suffer complications that add to their
7 The WHO has determined that most
health problems and reduce their quality
benefits from reducing these risks will
of life. Half of Canadians with multiple
accrue within a decade, and even modest
10 Investing in prevention pays off –
chronic conditions report moderate to
changes in risk factor levels can bring
in lower health care costs and a healthier
severe disability in daily living.
about large improvements in the health of
society.
4 More Canadians are developing chronic
conditions because of rising risks such as
obesity.
populations. Modest lifestyle changes,
such as losing four kilograms over three to
six years, have been shown to dramatically
delay or prevent the onset of diseases
such as diabetes in high-risk populations.
poor heart health.
1
why rep ort on the
health status of canadians
and health ou tcomes?
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
14
In defining the role of the Health Council of Canada,
Canada’s First Ministers gave the Council the task of
reporting on the health status of Canadians and the
results, or outcomes, of the care we receive. Canadians
are, by international standards, quite healthy. So
why focus on health outcomes and why now? Because
health outcomes are a marker of the effectiveness
of our health care system and the necessity of health
care renewal. Changing how the health care system
works can change health outcomes; so too can
changing public policies that influence other determinants of health.
Building on our March 2007 report, Why Health Care
Renewal Matters: Lessons from Diabetes, we continue
our focus on the urgent challenge of chronic health
conditions – long-term health problems that affect
more than one in three Canadians and have a huge
impact on health care services and quality of life.
In this report:
> We present a case for action – immediate, comprehen-
sive, and sustained – to promote healthy living and
prevent avoidable health problems and unnecessarily
costly care;
> We turn to Canadians living with chronic health
conditions to learn from them about their experiences
with care;
> We turn to governments to learn what policy-makers,
health care providers, and others are doing across
Canada in 2007 to improve care and prevent chronic
illness;
> We summarize evidence from research about how to
promote health and prevent disease and to help people
living with chronic illness enjoy the best possible
quality of life.
With all this research in hand, we share what it tells
us about Canada’s progress on health care renewal –
particularly progress toward the First Ministers’
commitments to improve health and health care. We
offer the Health Council’s perspective on what is
helping and what is hindering progress towards better
health outcomes for Canadians.
We hope this report speaks usefully to governments,
non-government organizations, industry, and especially
to Canadians. We want to help Canadians understand
the benefits that will come from investments to
close the gap between what we know and what we do
to prevent chronic health conditions and to care for
people who have them.
What are health outcomes?
Health outcomes are a measure of the effectiveness of our health
care system and of the impact of public policies that influence
health. Health outcomes are the result of services, programs,
policies, and personal behaviours that influence our health and
well-being.
What do we mean by quality of care?
Quality health care means doing the right thing at the right
time in the right way for the right person. Quality of care can be
measured in a number of ways, for example:
> How do people experience care?
> Does care match expert-recommended guidelines?
> Is care coordinated, safe, and efficient?
> Does care help to prevent avoidable health problems?
What are chronic health conditions?
Chronic health conditions usually develop slowly, last a long
time, and in most cases, have no cure. A chronic health
condition may severely limit a person’s ability to work, go to
school, or take care of daily needs.
In this report, we focus mainly on seven chronic health
conditions that affect many people and / or have a large impact on
health care use or quality of life. The seven select conditions are:
> arthritis
> cancer
> chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
> diabetes
> heart disease
> high blood pressure
> mood disorders
2
why care abou t chronic
health conditions?
a case for action
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
Canadians are quite healthy by international standards,1 but chronic health conditions – problems such
as diabetes and high blood pressure – are on the rise.
Though these health problems are more common
among vulnerable populations, chronic conditions cut
across all ages, incomes and circumstances. Because
most seniors have chronic health conditions, the social
and economic burden of these conditions will deepen
as our population ages.
16
We can change that future – if we act now. Though
there is a hereditary link to some conditions, many
chronic health conditions and complications from them
are rooted in the way we live. Public policies and
health care programs that are designed to promote
healthy lifestyles and improve the environments
in which we live, work and play can help to prevent
disease and reduce the burden it brings to our families
and communities.
The case for action is based on these facts:
> Chronic health conditions are on the rise and now
affect at least one in three Canadians – more than
nine million people. One-third of these people have
multiple long-term health problems.
> Chronic health conditions threaten the length and
quality of Canadians’ lives.
100
1
5
> Chronic health conditions represent a significant, and
growing, health care and economic burden for Canada.
> A handful of avoidable risks, also increasingly
common, cause most of the burden of chronic disease.
Preventive action now can secure a healthier future
for Canadians and a more sustainable future for our
health care system.
To make this case for action, we gathered evidence
from research and analyzed data collected by Statistics
Canada in interviews with nearly 133,000 Canadians
in 2005.2 For details on the survey and more on what
we learned from Canadians with and without select
chronic health conditions, please see our data supplement Population Patterns of Chronic Health Conditions
in Canada, a companion to this report and available
at www.healthcouncilcanada.ca.
“You have to be well off to be a diabetic.
Diabetes is an exclusive club and the
membership price is high ... the working
poor need not apply.”
Health Council of Canada’s public consultation on health care
renewal and chronic illness, spring 2007
2
11
11
11
14
19
22
18
14
10
8
7
19
20
90
35
80
48
26
FIGURE 1
Chronic conditions * are more
common among lower-income
Canadians, women and seniors
No select chronic conditions *
22
70
22
21
1 select chronic condition *
2 or more select chronic conditions*
60
Graph shows crude prevalence for people aged
12 and over. Income data are not adjusted for age
or gender differences. Numbers may not sum to
100% due to rounding.
50
36
34
70
64
60
65
69
72
73
40
94
87
63
% of all Canadians
30
† Income quintiles divide all Canadians into five
equal-sized groups based on household income.
People in quintile 1 have the lowest incomes; the
highest in quintile 5.
20
29
* Select chronic health conditions include arthritis,
cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and
mood disorders.
18
Source: Statistics Canada. Canadian Community
Health Survey (Cycle 3.1), 2005.
10
0
12-19
years
20-39
years
40-59
years
60-79
years
80+
years
Male
Female 1
(lowest)
2
3
4
Income quintile †
5
(highest)
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 2
Chronic health conditions are on the rise and now affect
at least one in three Canadians – more than nine
million people. One-third of these people have multiple
long-term health problems.
17
While the prevalence of some chronic health conditions
remains stable or has declined, for other conditions
rates are rising. For example, in 2005, almost 5% of the
population aged 12 and older (1.3 million Canadians)
had diabetes compared to about 3% (722,000 people)
a decade ago. Similarly, almost 15% of us (4.1 million
people) had high blood pressure in 2005, compared to
almost 9% (2.1 million people) in the 1990s.3
Nine million Canadians – about one in three youth
and adults ages 12 and up – report that they have
been diagnosed by a health care professional as having
at least one of seven high-prevalence, high-impact
chronic health conditions: arthritis, diabetes, cancer,
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease,
high blood pressure, and mood disorders. These select
chronic health conditions are much more common
among lower-income Canadians, women, and seniors
(Figure 1). Some ethnic groups are also disproportionately affected by these conditions. For example,
First Nations adults living on reserve have diabetes
at rates four times higher, and rising faster, than
other Canadians. First Nations people are also more
likely to experience complications from diabetes
such as amputations and kidney disease.4
More than one-third of people with chronic health
conditions also report that they have multiple longterm health problems, and certain conditions tend to
cluster. For example, more than half of people with
arthritis or high blood pressure, and three-quarters of
people with heart disease or diabetes, have other
select conditions. Health care services must be tailored
to address these patterns of multiple chronic health
conditions when patients seek care (Figure 2).
Chronic health conditions threaten the length and
quality of Canadians’ lives.
Chronic health conditions can have profound effects
on people’s sense of well-being and their ability to
continue their everyday activities at home, work and
play. Not surprisingly, health status declines and
disability increases as people develop more long-term
health problems. We found that more than one-third
of people with one chronic health condition report
moderate or severe disability (36%) and half of those
with two or more conditions report moderate or
severe disability (51%). Those with none of the select
conditions report the highest quality of life and are
most likely to report no or mild disability (Figure 3).
20
FIGURE 2
18
Arthritis and high blood
pressure are common chronic
health conditions *
16.2
16
14.9
14
3.0
3.1
5.3
10
5.3
* Select chronic health conditions include arthritis,
cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD), diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure,
and mood disorders.
Source: Statistics Canada. Canadian Community
Health Survey (Cycle 3.1), 2005.
8
4.7
4.8
5.5
0.9
2.0
1.8
1.5
1.6
1.7
1.1
1.3
6
% of all Canadians
2 select chronic health conditions *
3 or more select chronic health conditions *
12
4
2
1 select chronic health condition *
0.7
0
COPD
0.4
0.2
0.1
1.4
Cancer
0.5
0.5
0.4
Heart disease
7.9
6.5
3.1
Diabetes
Mood
disorders
High blood
pressure
Arthritis
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
Some chronic health conditions, such as heart disease
and cancer, tend to cut lives short while others, such
as mood disorders, are more likely to reduce a person’s
quality of life. If our goal is, as the authors of one
Canadian study put it, to add “years to life and life to
years,” we should look broadly across our population
and target efforts to improve both life expectancy
and quality of life.5
18
Chronic health conditions represent a significant, and
growing, health care and economic burden for Canada.
People with chronic health conditions are higher users
of health care services than those without long-term
health problems and the more conditions people have,
the more health care they use (Figures 4 and 5).
Compared to Canadians with none of the select
chronic health conditions, those with three or more
chronic conditions:
> use twice as many consultations with a family doctor,
1.5 times as many consultations with specialists and
other doctors, and four times as many consultations
with nurses (these are health care consultations
outside of the nights that patients stayed in hospitals);
> are 11 times more likely to receive home care services;
> are four times more likely to stay overnight in hospitals;
> spend three times more nights in hospitals.
100
90
A handful of avoidable risks, also increasingly common,
cause most of the burden of chronic disease.
A number of chronic diseases share common risk
factors, which explains why so many people have
multiple long-term health problems. Tobacco, alcohol,
high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity are
the major culprits, and the World Health Organization
(WHO ) estimates that at least one-third of the total
“burden of disease” in developed countries is caused
by these five risk factors.6
In recent decades, Canada has seen a surge in risk
factors among young and old, fueling concerns that
today’s adults could be the first generation in history
to develop health problems such as heart disease
and stroke at younger ages than the generations before
them.7 Obesity among North American children is
leading to early onset of chronic disease and greater
likelihood that more years will be spent in ill health.8
As we described in Why Health Care Renewal Matters:
Lessons from Diabetes, rates of chronic disease and
their risk factors are high and vary somewhat across
Canada’s regions. For example:
> Nearly 60% of adults and more than one in four
children in Canada are either overweight or obese, and
obesity has risen in every province over the past
20 years.
> Close to half of Canadians (40% to 55% across
the provinces and territories) are not active enough
to maintain good health.4
FIGURE 3
6
18
13
31
Canadians with chronic health conditions *
have poorer health status and greater disability
Severe disability
80
Moderate disability
18
Mild disability
70
No disability
Missing
60
20
46
Disability classification is based on Health Utilities Index (HUI) categories developed
by Feeny et al. 2004. 23 “No disability” refers to individuals with HUI scores of 1.00; those
with an HUI between 0.89 and 0.99 are grouped as having “mild disability ;” those
with an HUI of 0.70 to 0.88 are considered to have “moderate disability ”; and those
with HUI scores of less than 0.70 are classified in the “severe disability ” group.
“Missing” includes “don’t know ” responses, refusals, and not stated.
50
40
47
34
% of all Canadians
30
* Select chronic health conditions include ar thritis, cancer, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and mood disorders.
Source: Statistics Canada. Canadian Community Health Sur vey (Cycle 3.1), 2005.
20
32
13 13
10
0
3
No select chronic
health conditions *
5
1 select chronic
health condition *
7
8
2 or more select
chronic health
conditions *
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 2
Communities that have higher rates of chronic disease
should be able to achieve lower rates, as others have
done. A study showing that people in Atlantic Canada
have the most risk factors for heart disease, while
western provinces have the least,9 also found that
almost half of the regional differences in deaths related
to heart disease could be explained by regional differences in risk factors (e.g. smoking, obesity, diabetes,
and high blood pressure), social determinants of
health (e.g. education levels and unemployment rate),
and community characteristics (e.g. population
density and ethnic makeup).10
19
Much of the burden of disease* in
developed countries can be attributed to 7 risk factors
% of burden of disease* linked to risk factor
Tobacco smoking
12%
High blood pressure
11%
Alcohol use
9%
High cholesterol
8%
Overweight
7%
Low fruit and vegetable intake
4%
Physical inactivity
3%
* Burden of disease means the combined cost of health care, social costs due to
early death, and reduced quality of life as a result of health problems. The WHO
uses a measure called disability-adjusted life years (DALY ) to represent this
health and economic cost. One DALY is equal to the loss of one year of healthy
life. For example, a person who lives to age 70, but suffers an incapacitating
stroke at age 65, has lost five DALYs.
Physical and social environments are among the other
factors that may help account for differences in health
status in different parts of Canada. For example, there
is an inverse relationship between obesity and the
size of the community where people live. Adults living
in Canadian cities have lower obesity rates (20%) than
the national average (24%) and much lower than those
living outside of urban areas (29%). This may in part
be due to people’s ability and willingness to walk more
in densely-populated cities where they can rely less on
motor vehicles.11 Diabetes rates in Toronto are higher
in “inner suburb” neighbourhoods where more people
rely on cars and have to travel farther to grocery stores.12
Source: World Health Organization. The World Health Report 2002: Reducing Risks,
Promoting Healthy Life. Geneva: Switzerland. www.who.int/whr/2002/en/
20
FIGURE 4
18
People with 3 or more chronic
health conditions * consult with
nurses and doctors most often
16
All Canadians
No select chronic health conditions *
Average number of consultations in past year †
14
1 select chronic health condition *
2 select chronic health conditions *
12
3 or more select chronic health conditions *
10
8
* Select chronic health conditions include arthritis,
cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and
mood disorders.
6
† Consultations for any reason or diagnosis. Excludes
consultations during hospital overnights.
Source: Statistics Canada. Canadian Community
Health Survey (Cycle 3.1), 2005.
4
2
6.0
3.4 8.2 11.1 12.9
4.0
3.1
4.7 6.0
7.4
3.2
2.8
3.7
3.6 4.3
0
With a nurse
With a family doctor or GP
With any other doctor
(e.g. specialist)
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
Preventive action now can secure a healthier future for
Canadians and a more sustainable future for our health
care system.
20
There is tremendous opportunity to reduce the burden
of chronic disease. According to the WHO , 90% of
type 2 diabetes, 80% of coronary heart disease, and
one-third of cancers globally could be avoided if we all
ate a healthier diet (less salt, sugar, and fats; more
fruits and vegetables), got more physically active, and
stopped smoking.13 After synthesizing evidence from
international research, the WHO concluded that
industrialized countries stand to gain another five years
of healthy life expectancy if they can do better at
preventing chronic illness. For many of the risk factors
for chronic disease, negative impacts can be reversed
quickly, most benefits will accrue within a decade, and
even modest changes in risk factor levels can bring
about large improvements in people’s health.6
Studies in Canada have estimated how reducing risk
factors can prevent chronic disease, lower the demand
for health care, and save money. For example, if
everyone lowered their daily consumption of salt by
less than one teaspoon (1,840 mg of sodium/day), this
could result in a 30% decrease in cases of high blood
pressure in Canada, or one million fewer Canadians
with this condition. Direct cost savings – from reduced
need for physician visits, laboratory tests, and
medication – are estimated at $430 million per year.14
Getting people to reduce their salt intake has been
shown to be cost-effective in lowering blood pressure,
through programs directed at high-risk individuals
and large populations. At the same time, the WHO
recommends tackling the whole suite of risk factors
associated with chronic disease.6
In Why Health Care Renewal Matters: Lessons from
Diabetes, we reported that complications from diabetes,
which currently affect about 40% of people with the
disease,15 can be avoided with proper management of
blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight.16
Even modest reductions in blood sugar levels (a 1%
reduction) have been linked to a 37% decline in risk of
damage to blood vessels (which lead to conditions
such as kidney disease and eye damage), a 14% lower
rate of heart attack, and a 21% reduction in deaths
related to diabetes.17
More survey results...
Population Patterns of Chronic Health Conditions in Canada:
A Data Supplement
www.healthcouncilcanada.ca
FIGURE 5
16
15
14
Canadians with 3 or more chronic conditions* spend
many more nights in hospitals
Note: results not standardized for age or gender differences between populations.
* Select chronic health conditions include arthritis, cancer, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and mood disorders.
12
Average # of nights spent in hospital in past year †
† Hospital stays for any reason or diagnosis.
11
10
Source: Statistics Canada. Canadian Community Health Survey (Cycle 3.1), 2005.
9
8
8
6
5
4
2
0
All Canadians
No select
chronic health
conditions*
1 select
chronic health
condition*
2 select
chronic health
conditions*
3 or more
select chronic
health
conditions*
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 2
There is much that public policy and health care can
do to stop the continuing rise in chronic health
conditions in Canada and to lessen the devastating
consequences of chronic diseases among people who
have them. Sustained, well-executed, and targeted
social marketing campaigns can be a cost-effective way
of improving consumers’ knowledge about nutrition,
their attitudes about food, and the things they eat.6, 18
These interventions are particularly effective when
targeted for people who are at high risk for developing
chronic disease.19
21
ActNow BC, a province-wide initiative in British
Columbia, is founded on the evidence that public policy
can create a healthier future and reduce our use of
health care. In 2004, the BC Provincial Health Officer
projected the additional health care costs for people
with diabetes, and estimated how much those
costs could theoretically be reduced if the incidence
of diabetes declined by 25% or 50% over 10 years.20
Potential outcomes were modelled after a widely
reported study on nutritional and physical activity
change,21 and potential savings to the health care
system were estimated at $100 million to $200 million
annually (Figure 6). This and other research demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of programs that help
people make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk
of diabetes influenced the BC government’s decision to
implement ActNow BC (www.actnowbc.ca). While
a population-level program such as ActNow may not
achieve the same results as a clinical trial, it is expected
that the program will have a positive effect on the
incidence of diabetes and other chronic diseases.
By increasing healthier lifestyles among the population,
a successful program could possibly achieve an even
greater payoff in terms of quality of life, as well as health
care cost savings. We feature ActNow BC in Chapter 3.
The way health care is organized and delivered can also
help to delay or prevent the onset of chronic health
conditions and reduce the risk of complications from
them. In Why Health Care Renewal Matters: Lessons
from Diabetes, we cite evidence that when Canadians
with diabetes receive recommended lab tests and procedures, they are less likely to be admitted to a hospital
and the total costs of their hospital and physician
care are lower than for patients who do not receive
recommended care. 22 As we’ll explore further in
this report, the evidence available from research and
experience supports a call to action: preventing
and managing chronic health conditions is everybody’s
business. Sustained and coordinated strategies to
help Canadians stay healthy can and do work. These
investments pay dividends in very human terms and
in real cost savings to society.
FIGURE 6
10
9
Projected cost increases ($100 million)
8
$200 million
$100 million
Can changing lifestyles reduce
health care costs?
Projected annual growth in health services
costs to BC Ministry of Health for people with
diabetes, with implementation of lifestyle
modification program, British Columbia
2003/04 to 2015/16
Projected cost no incidence reduction
Projected cost based on 25% incidence
reduction by lifestyle modification program
Projected cost based on 50% incidence
reduction by lifestyle modification program
7
Source: Provincial Health Officer ’s Annual Report 2004,
The Impact of Diabetes on the Health and Well-Being
of People in British Columbia. Reproduced with
permission of BC Ministry of Health.
6
Lifestyle modifications starting in 2006/07
5
03/04
Year
04/05
05/06
06/07
07/08
08/09
09/10
10/11
11/12
12/13
13/14
14/15
15/16
For the purpose of this analysis, the resulting estimates
were modelled from a widely reported study involving
a nutritional and physical activity intervention for
non-diabetics at risk of developing diabetes. 21 It must
be acknowledged that the results of a specific clinical
trial are not necessarily attainable at the population
level, but can assist in the development of goals for a
population prevention strategy.
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
22
References
1 United Nations. (2006). Human Development Report 2006: Country
Fact Sheets - Canada. [web page] http://hdrstats.undp.org/countries/
country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_CAN.html.
15 Public Health Agency of Canada. (2003). Diabetes – Facts & Figures.
[web page]. www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ccdpc-cpcmc/diabetes-diabete/
english/facts/index.html.
2 Statistics Canada. (2005). Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle
3.1. www.statcan.ca.
16 The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial Research Group. (1993).
The effect of intensive treatment of diabetes on the development and
progression of long-term complications in insulin-dependent diabetes
mellitus. New England Journal of Medicine; 329(14): 977-986.
3 Statistics Canada. National Population Health Surveys (1994/95,
1996/97, 1998/99) and Canadian Community Health Surveys (2000/01,
2003, 2005). www.statcan.ca.
4 Health Council of Canada. (2007). Why Health Care Renewal
Matters: Lessons from Diabetes. Toronto: Health Council.
www.healthcouncilcanada.ca.
5 Manuel D and Shultz S. (2001). Adding years to life and life to years:
Life and health expectancy in Ontario. Research Atlas. Toronto: Institute
for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. www.ices.on.ca.
6 World Health Organization. (2002). The World Health Report 2002:
Reducing Risks and Promoting Healthy Life. Geneva: WHO. www.who.org.
7 Heart and Stroke Foundation. (2006). 2006 Report Card on Health –
Is 60 the New 70? [web page] www.heartandstroke.ca.
8 Olshansky SJ, Passaro DJ, Hershow RC et al. (2005). A potential decline
in life expectancy in the United States in the 21st century. New England
Journal of Medicine; 352(11): 1138-1145.
9 Tanuseputro P, Manuel DG, Leung M et al. (2006). Risk factors
for cardiovascular disease in Canada. In: Tu JV, Ghali WA, Pilote L, Brien S
[eds]. CCORT Canadian Cardiovascular Atlas. Pulsus Group Inc. and
Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences: 30-40.
10 Filate WA, Johansen HL, Kennedy CC, Tu JV. (2006). Regional variations
in cardiovascular mortality in Canada. In: Tu JV, Ghali WA, Pilote L,
Brien S [eds]. CCORT Canadian Cardiovascular Atlas. Pulsus Group Inc.
and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences: 41-48.
11 Shields M and Tjepkema M. (2006). Regional differences in obesity.
Health Reports; 17(3): 61-67.
12 Glazier RH, Booth GL, Creatore MI, Tynan A [eds]. (2007).
Neighbourhood Environments and Resources for Healthy Living – A Focus
on Diabetes in Toronto: ICES Atlas. Toronto: Institute for Clinical Evaluative
Sciences. www.ices.on.ca.
13 World Health Organization. Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity
and Health. Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Chronic disease information
sheets. [web pages, no date]. www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/
publications/facts/.
14 Joffres M, Campbell N, Manns B, Tu K. (2007). Estimate of the benefits
of a population-based reduction in dietary sodium additives on
hypertension and its related health care costs in Canada. Canadian
Journal of Cardiology; 23(6): 437-443.
17 Stratton IM, Adler AI, Neil HA et al. (2000). Association of glycaemia
with macrovascular and microvascular complications of type 2 diabetes
(UKPDS 35): prospective observational study. BMJ; 321(7258): 405-412.
18 Pollard CM, Miller MR, Daly AM et al. (2007). Increasing fruit and
vegetable consumption: success of the Western Australian Go for
2 and 5 campaign. Public Health Nutrition; 6: 1-7.
19 Ammerman AS, Lindquist CH, Lohr KN, Hersey J. (2002). The efficacy
of behavioral interventions to modify dietary fat and fruit and vegetable
intake: a review of the evidence. Preventive Medicine; 35(1): 25-41.
20 British Columbia Provincial Health Officer. (2005). The Impact of
Diabetes on the Health and Well-Being of People in British Columbia.
Provincial Health Officer’s Annual Report 2004. Victoria, BC: Ministry
of Health.
21 Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. (2002). Reduction in
the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin.
New England Journal of Medicine; 346(6): 393-403.
22 Krueger H. (2006). The Relationship between Long-Term Adherence
to Recommended Clinical Procedures and Health Care Utilization for
Adults with Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes. [PhD dissertation]. University of
British Columbia, Department of Health Care and Epidemiology.
23 Feeny D, Furlong W, Saigal S, Sun J. (2004). Comparing directly
measured standard gamble scores to HUI2 and HUI3 utility scores:
Group- and individual-level comparisons. Social Science and Medicine;
58: 799-809.
3
health promotion
and disease prevention –
how are we d oing?
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
24
The decline in smoking among Canadians, from 35% in
19851 to 23% in 2005,2 helps illustrate that it is possible
to change social norms to reduce risks for chronic
disease, although high rates of smoking continue to
plague some areas of the country. This success is widely
understood as the result of sustained and multi-faceted
strategies to restrict smoking and encourage people
to quit or not start – strategies including legislation,
tax policy, public education campaigns, and support at
workplaces and from health care professionals.
Canadians should expect governments to lead similarly
sustained and multi-faceted action to promote other
aspects of healthy living, such as eating habits and
exercise. One of the lessons from our experience with
reducing tobacco use is that changing behaviour to
improve health cannot be achieved by simply telling
people what’s best for them. Also required are public
policies that help create the conditions for change.
Governments recognized this in the 2003 and 2004
health accords when they spoke about helping
Canadians to prevent and manage chronic disease.
In this chapter we look at where we are today in
relation to key strategies enshrined in the Ottawa
Charter for Health Promotion, which emerged from the
first International Conference on Health Promotion
hosted by the World Health Organization, Health
and Welfare Canada, and the Canadian Public Health
Association in Ottawa in 1986.3 Twenty years later,
these actions are still recognized as important to help
people increase control over their health and prevent
chronic conditions:*
> Build healthy public policy;
> Strengthen community actions;
> Create supportive environments;
> Reorient health care services.
We use ActNow BC , a government-led strategy to
reduce common risk factors for chronic diseases in
British Columbia, to demonstrate how these elements
can be integrated in a comprehensive approach to
improve health across a large population. ActNow BC ’s
goal is to be the most comprehensive health promotion
program in North America.4 (For more information
on ActNow BC , including its specific goals and targets,
see www.actnowbc.ca and our profile of the program
in Why Health Care Renewal Matters: Lessons from
Diabetes.)
* The Ottawa Charter also includes two other health promotion
actions (i.e. development of personal skills and moving into the
future) that are not described in this report.
What governments promised
In February 2003, the prime minister and premiers signed
the First Ministers’ Accord on Health Care Renewal, which made
general commitments to a “healthy Canadians” agenda:
“ Coordinated approaches are necessary to deal with the issue of
obesity, promote physical fitness and improve public and
environmental health. First Ministers direct Health Ministers to
continue their work on healthy living strategies and other
initiatives to reduce disparities in health status.”
In September 2004, First Ministers signed the 10-Year Plan to
Strengthen Health Care in which they made further general
commitments to advancing “prevention, promotion and public
health.”
“All governments recognize that public health efforts on health
promotion, disease and injury prevention are critical to achieving
better health outcomes for Canadians and contributing to the
long-term sustainability of Medicare by reducing pressure on the
health care system. In particular, managing chronic disease
more effectively maintains health status for individuals and
counters a growing trend of increasing disease burden.”
“ Governments commit to accelerate work on a pan-Canadian
Public Health Strategy. For the first time, governments will
set goals and targets for improving the health status of Canadians
through a collaborative process with experts. The Strategy will
include efforts to address common risk factors, such as physical
inactivity, and integrated disease strategies. First Ministers
commit to working across sectors through initiatives such as
Healthy Schools.”
In October 2005, all ministers of health endorsed a set of national
healthy living targets, which call for a 20% increase by 2015 in
the proportion of Canadians who are physically active, eat healthy
food, and are at healthy body weights (www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/
hl-vs-strat). They also adopted the Health Goals for Canada,
developed collaboratively by governments, public health and
other experts, stakeholders and citizens (www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/
hgc-osc). Ministers agreed that these goals would inform each
provincial and territorial government in development of their
own initiatives.5
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 3
25
Then we shine a light on what policy-makers, health
care providers, and community partners are doing
across Canada in 2007 to promote health and prevent
chronic health conditions.
Build healthy public policy
Governments are stewards of resources that have
great potential to promote or harm the health of their
populations. They should effectively engage every
aspect of government to ensure that public policymakers are aware of the health consequences of their
decisions and accept a shared responsibility for
improving health. Coordinated actions across government ministries – such as transportation, education,
and finance – should capitalize on public investments
and ensure that regulations and taxation policy have
a positive impact on health.3, 6 Government strategies
should be based on the best available evidence from
scientific research, involve a wide range of partners
and disciplines, and take a long-term perspective. 7
Measurable goals and targets must accompany
government strategies to assess the impact of public
investments: Are the money and effort well spent?
Are they achieving their intended outcomes? Are there
unintended results?
A unique feature of the ActNow BC strategy is
its “all-of-government approach” that requires each
department to use its influence to help reduce
the prevalence of common risk factors for chronic
diseases. Each ministry has been directed to contribute
to reaching the provincial goals and to establish
short-term and long-term outcomes to evaluate their
programs. Ministries have responded with dozens of
initiatives: for example, the Ministry of Employment
and Income Assistance funds programs to help
low-income residents quit smoking and improve their
healthy cooking skills; the Ministry of Tourism, Sport
and the Arts funds an outdoor leadership training
program that helps Aboriginal youth get jobs in
recreation. A Minister of State for ActNow BC and a
committee of senior executives from each ministry
Health promotion
Health promotion aims to achieve equity in health by making
conditions favourable for as many people as possible – by
addressing barriers to good nutrition, educational success, or
adequate income, to name only a few of the factors that
influence people’s health. This cannot be done through the
health care sector alone; it demands coordinated action
by governments, non-governmental organizations, industry,
and local authorities such as city governments, health
authorities, and schools, among others.
SELECTED ACTIVITIES FROM ACROSS CANADA
What’s being done to coordinate actions across government
ministries to increase health promotion efforts and improve
health outcomes?
In Prince Edward Island, the Ministries of Health, Social Services
and Seniors, Education, and Community and Cultural Affairs
participate with community partners in the province’s Healthy
Living Strategy, which focuses on reducing tobacco use, improving eating habits, and increasing physical activity to slow the
growth of chronic disease. These ministries also jointly support
PEI’s Tobacco Reduction, Healthy Eating, and Active Living
Alliances, in which community organizations join forces with
government departments to increase the province’s capacity
for action in health promotion.
www.gpei.ca/infopei/index.php3?number=1001897&lang=E
In Newfoundland and Labrador, a Provincial Wellness Advisory
Council brings together a wide range of professional associations,
non-government agencies and six government departments
(Education; Environment and Conservation; Government Services;
Tourism, Culture and Recreation; Health and Community
Services; and Human Resources, Labour and Employment). The
Council helped to develop the Provincial Wellness Plan,
launched in March 2006 with a $3.7 million budget that year.
Healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco control, and injury
prevention are the focus of Phase I. Other wellness priority areas
such as mental health, child and youth development, environmental health, and health protection will get attention in Phase II.
Six Regional Wellness Coalitions, supported by regional health
authorities, lead and coordinate local activities, and community
groups can receive up to $50,000 in Provincial Wellness Grants
to conduct projects that support the priority areas.
www.gohealthy.ca
In the Northwest Territories, the Healthy Choices Framework
has resulted in interdepartmental action plans to address
unhealthy behaviours, under the territory’s 2006–2010 strategic
plan. The framework aims to promote healthy living and disease
prevention in six core areas: tobacco, sexually transmitted
infections, injury prevention, healthy eating, active living, and
mental health. A total of $400,000 was budgeted for the
framework in 2006 / 2007, with another $180,000 in 2007 / 2008
on an ongoing basis.
www.hlthss.gov.nt.ca/pdf/reports/health_care_system/2006/english/
hss_action_plan_2006_2010.pdf
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
26
ensures that their efforts work together towards the
province’s measurable targets. Changing societal norms
takes time, but receiving buy-in from all of government
fuels a jurisdiction’s ability to attain this goal much
more quickly.4, 8
Strengthen community actions
The impact of coordinated actions across government
ministries to reduce the risk of chronic disease can
be multiplied through collaborative partnerships with
non-governmental organizations, industry, local
authorities, and others. In effective health promotion,
communities take ownership of issues and set priorities,
plan strategies, and implement them.3 For example,
population-wide interventions to promote healthy
eating and reduce tobacco use, or to lower blood
pressure by reducing salt intake are very effective
separately or in combination. Population-wide
and targeted interventions to reduce the incidence
of diabetes or HIV infections are highly costeffective.6, 9, 10, 11
The bottom-up approach of “capacity building” is
one important way to strengthen community actions.
This means helping working partners develop the skills
and resources they need to effectively hold together
the programs and services they deliver, which increases
their chances for long-term success.12
ActNow BC engages non-profit organizations such
as the BC Healthy Living Alliance and 2010 Legacies
Now as “true and equal partners” of change and
infuses them with stable and sufficient funding to
enable them to carry out health promotion programs
over the long term. 8 For example, in August 2007,
the BC Healthy Living Alliance – a partnership of
influential not-for-profit organizations interested in
promoting health – received a $22-million grant to
implement its strategies on healthy eating, physical
activity and tobacco reduction. Through the alliance’s
broad membership and volunteer base in nearly 200
BC communities, initiatives under these strategies are
expected to have far-reaching impact throughout
the province. The alliance will measure the impact of
these programs by conducting an external evaluation
of the outcomes. 13
SELECTED ACTIVITIES FROM ACROSS CANADA
In the Yukon, the health promotion unit of Yukon Health and
Social Services has established more formal collaboration with
educators under the umbrella of school health. A Healthy Eating
Program has been introduced, with the goal of encouraging all
segments of the population to adopt healthier lifestyle choices
through better nutrition and physical activity.
www.hss.gov.yk.ca/programs/health_promotion
Ontario’s Action Plan for Healthy Eating and Active Living
(HEAL), launched in June 2006, is engaging sectors and
communities to address key risk factors for chronic disease –
poor nutrition and physical inactivity. The $10-million strategy
supports initiatives such as the Healthy School Recognition
Program in partnership with the Ministry of Education to promote
healthy behaviours and practices in school environments.
To date, over 1,300 schools have participated in this program.
www.mhp.gov.on.ca/english/health/HEAL/actionplan-EN.pdf
Manitoba in Motion was launched in October 2005 as part of a
provincial strategy to make Manitobans healthier by increasing
physical activity across all age groups. The initiative involves
four government departments (Health; Healthy Living;
Aboriginal and Northern Affairs; and Culture, Heritage, Tourism
and Sport) and many non-government partners including the
Manitoba Fitness Council and Sport Manitoba. Based on the
Saskatchewan in Motion model (profiled in the Health Council’s
2006 report Their Future Is Now: Healthy Choices for Canada’s
Children & Youth), the strategy has four components: building
partnerships, increasing public awareness, developing strategies for target areas, and measuring success.
www.manitobainmotion.ca
The Tåîchô Community Services Agency in the Northwest
Territories is a unique example of an all-of-government approach
that combines the delivery of education, health, and social services. The agency is managed by the Tåîchô people in collaboration
with the Government of the Northwest Territories, and provides
services sensitive to the culture, traditions, and needs of Tåîchô
people. One example is the Tåîchô Healing Path Wellness Strategy,
which empowers members to work towards health and wellness
with practical support through services such as lifestyle-change
counselling, family counselling, public health and clinical services,
and access to educational programs and services.
www.tlicho.ca/services-agency
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 3
27
BC Healthy Living Alliance
> BC Lung Association
> BC Pediatric Society
> BC Recreation and Parks Association
> Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon Division
> Canadian Diabetes Association
> Dietitians of Canada, BC Region
> Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC and Yukon
> Public Health Association of BC
> Union of BC Municipalities
www.bchealthyliving.ca
“For over eight years I tried to introduce a
diabetes awareness program within the local
Band-owned stores I had managed in North
Saskatchewan, to no success! I believe that
industry has to work closely with assisting the
public in providing more information at the
level when food is being purchased.”
Health Council of Canada’s public consultation on health care renewal
and chronic illness, spring 2007
Create supportive environments
Our health is inextricably linked with the natural and
built environments we live in – from the design of
our streets and the quality of the air we breathe, to the
kind of work we do and the atmosphere in our workplace. Changing patterns of family, work, and leisure
can also help or hinder health. Creating environments
that support good health means ensuring that the
contexts in which we live and work are safe, stimulating,
satisfying, and enjoyable.3
In the prevention of chronic health conditions, this
means creating the conditions that enable people
to abandon harmful behaviours (e.g. smoking) and
adopt healthier habits (e.g. walking more, driving
less). All sectors of society can help to create
supportive environments: governments (e.g. family
support policies, transportation), non-government
organizations and industry (e.g. workplace policies),
local authorities (e.g. school policies, community
design), communities and families (e.g. attitudes
about active living for children and seniors).
SELECTED ACTIVITIES FROM ACROSS CANADA
Since November 2004, Health Canada has been working with
the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and a multi-stakeholder task force (including federal departments and agencies,
industry associations, voluntary organizations, and scientific
experts) to develop recommendations and strategies to reduce
trans fats in Canadian foods to the lowest level possible.
In June 2007, the federal minister of health announced that
Canada will adopt the limits proposed by the task force in its
final report, TRANSforming the Food Supply, making Canada
the first country to require that the levels of trans fat in prepackaged food be included on the mandatory nutrition label.
What’s being done in Canada to mobilize communities so they
are true partners in advancing health promotion and disease
prevention?
www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/gras-trans-fats/tf-ge/tf-gt_rep-rap_e.html
The Public Health Agency of Canada works with provinces and
territories to address common risk factors for chronic disease
through a number of collaborative initiatives, including: the
Integrated Strategy on Healthy Living and Chronic Disease and
the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network.
In Ontario, Thunder Bay Fast Forward is a broad community
development plan that has been working since 2001 to improve
health, strengthen the local economy, and increase quality
of life in that northern Ontario city. More than 70 organizations
participate. Progress in health indicators from 2001 to 2003
included lower rates of smoking and obesity and higher rates
of people getting regular physical activity.
www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/media/nr-rp/2005/2005_37bk3_e.html and
www.thunderbay.ca/index.cfm?fuse=html&pg=641
www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/healthpartners/index.html
The Health Integration Initiative in Nunavut supports health
committees in each of the territory’s 25 communities to help
them pursue wellness strategies that use a holistic, integrated,
and community-centric approach to health care and social
services delivery.
www.gov.nu.ca
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
28
Through its many partnerships, ActNow BC is active in
schools, workplaces, and communities, and activities
are led individually or jointly by leaders in the various
sectors engaged in the program. Since the start of
ActNow BC in 2005, more than 130 towns, cities and
First Nations have registered as “Active Communities”
with action plans to increase physical activity levels
among their populations; 100% of school districts –
encompassing over 1,300 elementary and middle
schools with more than 350,000 students – have integrated physical activity throughout the school day, in
addition to gym classes; and the Ministry of Health
has piloted a Workplace Wellness initiative at ministry
sites and meetings, with 12 other ministries following
suit. As employers, the Ministries of Environment
and Health run a Work Bike program that provides
bikes and safety courses to encourage employees to
cycle to downtown meetings.4, 8
Reorient health care services
In 1986, the Ottawa Charter called for reorienting
health services so that they “contribute to the pursuit
of health;” while the health care system must treat
the sick, it should also embed health promotion and
disease prevention in its everyday services. There is
good evidence that health care providers can make a
difference: for example, advice from physicians helps
patients stop smoking.14 In March 2007, the Health
Council echoed this call when we recommended that
we shift health care services from their current
“find it and fix it” orientation to a “prevent it, find it,
manage it” approach to stem the tide of chronic
health conditions among Canadians and better match
the complex, ongoing needs of people with chronic
disease.15
SELECTED ACTIVITIES FROM ACROSS CANADA
In Newfoundland and Labrador, as part of the Provincial
Wellness Plan, the Department of Health and Community
Services funds the Alliance for the Control of Tobacco, an
umbrella organization of not-for-profits involved in public
education to reduce smoking. The Alliance’s Tobacco Reduction
Strategy (2005-2008) describes initiatives focused on prevention, protection and cessation.
www.actnl.com and www.smokingsucks.ca/pdf/ACTguts.pdf
The Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada is a networked community of organizations and individuals who share
a common vision for an integrated system of chronic disease
prevention in Canada. It brings together disease-specific
stakeholders (diabetes, cancer, heart, stroke, respiratory) and
a cross-section of chronic disease stakeholders, including
provincial/territorial and risk-factor (e.g. physical activity, nutrition, tobacco) perspectives. The “Cube Project” is mapping
prevention activities and priorities, to recommend ways to
achieve an aligned and integrated system for primary prevention.
www.chronicdiseaseprevention.ca
In Ontario, the Communities In Action Fund – part of
ACTIVE2010, Ontario’s Sport and Physical Activity Strategy –
was established in 2004 to invest in community projects that
remove barriers to sport and physical activity participation.
Since its inception, more than $25 million in non-capital grants
have supported over 800 organizations at the provincial and
local levels, benefiting approximately one million people
including children and youth, low-income families, Aboriginal
communities, older adults, women and girls, visible/ethnic
minorities, and people with disabilities.
www.mhp.gov.on.ca/english/sportandrec/ciaf/fund.asp
In British Columbia, Interior Health region’s new Community
Action for Health program provides seed funding to local
healthy living alliances and networks to enhance their ability to
support health promotion and illness prevention in their
community. The goal is to create local environmental and policy
changes that support the provincial ActNow BC targets.
The program will support projects that work upstream to support
comprehensive and sustainable change.
www.interiorhealth.ca/NR/rdonlyres/0FC3FDA8-9520-43AA-9CD1-923AF15081BF/
3665/WhatisCommunityActionforHealth.doc
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 3
29
British Columbia’s Primary Health Care Charter,
adopted in May 2007, endorses this kind of reorientation (www.primaryhealthcarebc.ca). It lays out a
broad strategy to tap the “great potential of primary
health care to improve the health of the population
and contribute to the sustainability of the health care
system.” Chronic disease – prevention, management,
and coordination of care – takes centre stage in
this charter, which describes a range of system-wide
changes in health care that will help the province
achieve the risk-reduction goals of ActNow BC . For
example, family doctors can now receive incentive
payments when they assess middle-aged men and
women for risk of heart disease and create action plans
with their patients. Also supporting a stronger focus
on prevention are established provincial programs like
the Dial-A-Dietitian electronic database, which helps
nutritionists respond to calls from the public with upto-date, evidence-based information on healthy eating.
“What’s really needed is a focus on the
determinants of health for people with mental
illness ...There have to be the resources
and choices available for people to be able
to engage in healthy behaviours and an
environment ... that is conducive.”
“Doctors need to be more assertive about
weight and lifestyle issues of patients. Time
spent on education at this point would
save a lot of suffering later when the illness
has been diagnosed.”
Health Council of Canada’s public consultation on health care renewal
and chronic illness, spring 2007
SELECTED ACTIVITIES FROM ACROSS CANADA
In Ontario, the Culture Counts project of the Centre for
Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has produced a guide for
community education and knowledge exchange in mental
health and addiction with culturally / linguistically diverse communities. Culture Counts is a partnership between CAMH, the
Ontario Public Health Association, local public health agencies,
and seven community-based organizations serving Polish,
Portuguese, Russian, Tamil, Punjabi, Somali, and Serbian people
in Toronto, Peel Region, Ottawa, and Windsor.
www.camh.net/About_CAMH/Health_Promotion/
Community_Health_Promotion/Culture_Counts/index.html
In Saskatchewan, the Saskatoon Health Region has community
developers who work with community groups in their efforts to
achieve healthier communities. The health region has three
core objectives: to encourage community participation in health,
focus on the creation of healthier communities, and expand
understanding of factors that sustain the health of communities.
www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/your_health/
ps_primary_health_community_development.htm
Through the Community Action Program for Children, the
Public Health Agency of Canada provides long-term funding to
community coalitions to deliver programs that address the
health and development of children (0-6 years) who are living in
conditions of risk. The program places a strong emphasis on
partnerships and community capacity building. Each province /
territory receives a base allocation of $500,000 per year to allow
for at least one major project of significant intervention.
www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/dca-dea/programs-mes/capc_main_e.html
What’s being done in Canada to create supportive environments?
Brighter Futures is a community-based health promotion
program, funded by the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of
Health Canada through contribution agreements with territorial
governments and First Nations communities within provinces.
In Nunavut for example, Brighter Futures projects were delivered
in every community for 2006/2007, and aimed to improve
the physical, mental and social well-being of Inuit children, their
families and their communities.
www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fnih-spni/promotion/mental/brighter_grandir_e.html
Under Nova Scotia’s Pathways for People Framework for Action,
the Department of Health Promotion and Protection is working
with other government departments, municipalities, and
community groups to advocate for active transportation, which
includes both recreation and transportation for utilitarian
purposes such as walking, biking, and rollerblading.
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
30
From the patient’s perspective, how are we doing as
a health-promoting country today? In 2007, the Health
Council asked Canadians who have chronic health
conditions about health promotion and disease
prevention services they received from their primary
care provider over the past 12 months.16
More than one-third feel that that these providers
“always” or “usually” give them the help they want to
reach or maintain a healthy body weight (39%).
Almost half report that their primary care providers
talk with them about specific things they could do to
improve health or prevent illness, such as things to
help them stop smoking, reduce alcohol use, or cope
with stress (48%). More than half report that these
providers “always” or “usually” give them the help they
need to make these changes (57%). These rates
do not differ much than those for Canadians with no
chronic health conditions, which suggests that these
services may not be particularly tailored to people
who most need them (Figure 7).
When Canadians were asked about the care they
received for their specific chronic conditions over the
past six months, almost half (49%) said they were
asked questions about their health habits. However,
a similar proportion (42%) indicated they were
“generally not / almost never” helped to set specific
goals to improve eating or exercise.16
The advice of the Ottawa Charter is as relevant for
Canada today as it was two decades ago. On reorienting health care, the Ottawa Charter says this will
require stronger attention to health research; today we
need continued research to identify how health care
providers can be most effective in improving health
outcomes. They also said it will require changes in the
education of health care professionals, so providers
can offer care that focuses on the needs and preferences
of the patient, not solely on the problem that caused
a patient to seek health care. That is the subject of the
next chapter.
“Managing an illness should be a multi-disciplinary function but be available in a centralized
environment ... The faster the person is on
the road to recovery the faster that individual
will hopefully be able to become a positive
contributing member to society once again.”
Health Council of Canada’s public consultation on health care renewal
and chronic illness, spring 2007
SELECTED ACTIVITIES FROM ACROSS CANADA
In British Columbia the LocalMotion program gives local
governments extra resources to improve traffic, safety, reduce
energy consumption, and encourage physical activity. The
Ministry of Community Services has allocated $40 million over
four years for bike paths, walkways, greenways and improvements for people with disabilities.
www.localmotion.gov.bc.ca
As part of ACTIVE2010, the Ontario Trails Strategy – launched in
October 2005 with an annual budget of $3.5 million over five
years – guides the development, management, and promotion of
a diversified trail system to help address a chronic disease risk
factor – physical inactivity. The Trails for Life grant program
provides funding to increase physical activity and promote the
health and economic benefits of trails.
www.mhp.gov.on.ca/english/sportandrec/A2010_TrailStrategy.pdf
In Saskatchewan, the in motion program supports several
initiatives across the province around active transportation such
as biking and walking.
A partnership of community trail groups, provincial and local
government departments, and regional and provincial not-forprofit organizations in Nova Scotia is working to develop
a comprehensive province-wide trail system resulting in 500
kilometers of new trail over the next four years.
The PEI Healthy Eating Alliance is one of three risk-factor
reduction alliances in the province. Formed in 2001, the alliance
includes over 30 community organizations, educators, and
government agencies, and individuals who work together to
improve the eating habits of Island children and youth. For
example, the Alliance created a School Healthy Eating Toolkit
(funded by Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Diabetes
Strategy) with a rationale for school nutrition policies and practical information on operating healthy school food programs.
The Alliance recently launched a three-year PEI Healthy Eating
Strategy.
www.healthyeatingpei.ca
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Healthy Students, Healthy
Schools initiative is underway to ensure that school environments support children’s health. School Food Guidelines –
developed in partnership by the Departments of Health and
Education, school administrators, teachers, students, and
parents – will be fully implemented across the province by
September 2008. Regional health authorities will provide health
coordinators for each school district. A new curriculum for
grades K-12 makes physical education mandatory for graduation.
More than $2.4 million has bought new physical education
equipment for schools over the past two years, with programs
moving away from a sports-only model and focusing on young
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 3
31
FIGURE 7
Did your primary care provider …
Help you change habits / lifestyles to improve health / prevent illness?
No select chronic
conditions*
34
21
1 or more select
chronic conditions*
37
20
14
19
11
18
6
Do primary care providers promote
disease prevention and healthy
living?
Always
17
Usually
Sometimes
Talk about specific things to improve health / prevent illness?
No select chronic
conditions*
24
17
1 or more select
chronic conditions*
30
18
Rarely / Never
14
27
18
16
22
10
19
1 or more select
chronic conditions*
25
12
7
14
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to
missing, refusal, and “don’t know” responses.
* Select chronic conditions include: arthritis, cancer,
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, heart
disease, high blood pressure, and mood disorders.
Help you reach or maintain a healthy body weight?
No select chronic
conditions*
Not applicable
38
22
14
20
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Survey of
Experiences with Primary Health Care, 2007.
26
% of Canadians who visited a family doctor or general practitioner in
past 12 months
SELECTED ACTIVITIES FROM ACROSS CANADA
people leading more active, healthy lives. A Living Healthy
Schools website provides resources and information for schools
and communities.
www.livinghealthyschools.com
With funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, a partnership of national and provincial agencies is collaborating on
evaluating and disseminating a Seniors’ Mental Health Policy Lens,
an instrument for developing or critiquing policy, legislation,
programs and services that support the well-being of older adults.
www.seniorsmentalhealth.ca/best%20practices.htm
What is being done in Canada to reorient primary health care
services to promote health and prevent chronic disease?
The McAdam Health Centre in New Brunswick’s River Valley
Health region focuses on health promotion and disease prevention services – such as diabetes and asthma education and
screening, tobacco cessation, and education on how to use
medications safely – in addition to palliative care and 24/7
emergency services.
Integrated Primary Health Care for Elsipogtog First Nation in
New Brunswick combines community-based services, particularly
mental health services, for the Mi'kmaq community of 2,700
people with services provided by physicians and nurse
practitioners from the Beauséjour Regional Health Authority.
The community identified a need for improved access to
culturally appropriate community-based services as well as
more access to physician services.
www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fnih-spni/services/acces/elsipogtog_e.html
In Ontario, the Dryden Area Family Health Team has designed
a program called It’s Your Health! which focuses on health
promotion and disease prevention services such as nutrition
programs to prevent weight-related complications. Patients and
providers work together to assess patients’ needs using the
team’s Your Health Toolkit and then set up appointments with
appropriate providers.
In Saskatchewan, the Hudson Bay Primary Health Services
Project of the Pasquia Health District uses health promotion
principles in everyday interactions with clients and focuses
on promoting good health practices, early diagnosis, treatment,
and disease prevention. The multidisciplinary team includes
physicians, primary care nurses, public health nurses, other
nurses, social workers, nutritionists, physical therapists, and
home care workers, among others. The nurse practitioner
is able to spend the additional time putting social supports in
place and teaching self-care management.
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
32
References
1 Gilmore J. (2002). Report on Smoking in Canada, 1985 to 2001. Ottawa:
Statistics Canada. Catalogue 82F0077XIE. Prevalence is for individuals
aged 15+ who report being a daily or occasional smoker.
2 Statistics Canada. Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 3.1, 2005.
[unpublished data]. Prevalence is for those aged 15+ who report being
a daily or occasional smoker.
3 World Health Organization. (1986). The Ottawa Charter for Health
Promotion. First International Conference on Health Promotion, Ottawa,
November 21, 1986. www.who.int/healthpromotion/conferences/
previous/ottawa/en/index.html.
4 British Columbia Ministry of Health, Population Health and Wellness
Division. (2006 June). ActNow BC: Strategy Document.
5 Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat. (2005). Annual
Conference of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Health. Toronto,
Ontario – October 22-23, 2005. [news release]. www.scics.gc.ca/
cinfo05/830866004_e.html.
6 World Health Organization. (2002). World Health Report 2002: Reducing
Risks and Promoting Healthy Life. Geneva: WHO. www.who.org.
7 World Health Organization. (2004) Global Strategy on Diet, Physical
Activity and Health. Geneva: WHO. www.who.org.
8 Andrew Hazlewood, Assistant Deputy Minister, Population Health and
Wellness, British Columbia Ministry of Health, personal communication,
August 15, 2007.
9 Joffres M, Campbell N, Manns B, Tu K. (2007). Estimate of benefits of a
population-based reduction in dietary sodium additives on hypertension
and its related health care costs in Canada. Canadian Journal of
Cardiology; 23(6): 437-443.
10 Ammerman AS, Lindquist CH, Lohr KN, Hersey J. (2002). The efficacy
of behavioral interventions to modify dietary fat and fruit and vegetable
intake: a review of the evidence. Preventive Medicine; 35(1): 25-41.
11 The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial Research Group. (1993).
The effect of intensive treatment of diabetes on the development and
progression of long-term complications in insulin-dependent diabetes
mellitus. New England Journal of Medicine; 329(14): 977-986.
12 Ontario Prevention Clearinghouse. (2002). Capacity Building for
Health Promotion: More than Bricks and Mortar. Toronto: OPC.
www.opc.on.ca.
13 BC Healthy Living Alliance. (2007 Aug 14). BC’s top health
organizations unite for $22-million initiative to promote healthy eating,
physical activity and tobacco reduction. [news release].
www.bchealthyliving.ca.
14 Lancaster T, Stead LF. (1996). Physician advice for smoking cessation.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews; Issue 4. Art. No.: CD000165.
DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000165.pub2. Date of last substantive update:
July 13, 2004.
15 Health Council of Canada. (2007). Why Health Care Renewal
Matters: Lessons from Diabetes. Toronto: Health Council.
www.healthcouncilcanada.ca.
16 Health Council of Canada. (2007). Canadians’ Experiences with
Chronic Illness Care in 2007: A Data Supplement to Why Health Care
Renewal Matters: Learning from Canadians with Chronic Health
Conditions. Toronto: Health Council. www.healthcouncilcanada.ca.
4
qualit y of chronic
illness care –
how are we d oing?
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
34
Quality in health care includes many aspects of care:
for example, do patients receive the tests and procedures that experts recommend for their conditions?
Are patients actively involved in decisions about their
care? Do providers listen well so that they can respond
effectively to patients’ concerns? Patients expect their
health care providers to respect and respond to
their needs and preferences, and to share information
and decision-making about their care. This dimension
of health care services has come to be known as
patient-centred care. Patient-centred care is fundamental to a high-quality health care system1, 2 because it
can make a real difference in patients’ health.3
Through their commitments on health care renewal in
2003 and 2004, Canada’s governments recognized
the importance of improving access to quality primary
health care, the foundation of care for people with
chronic health conditions. In our first report on health
outcomes, Why Health Care Renewal Matters: Lessons
from Diabetes, we assessed whether people with type 2
diabetes were receiving timely, recommended care.
We learned that, despite the tremendous efforts and
good intentions invested in delivering health care,
the way that care is currently provided leaves too many
people vulnerable to developing avoidable chronic
conditions and related complications.
Here we turn to Canadians with chronic conditions
to learn about their recent experiences with health
care. Using key elements of patient-centred care,5 we
look at where we are today to ensure that:*
> Canadians have access to needed care;
> patients are engaged in their care;
> care is coordinated;
> health care teams deliver integrated and comprehensive
care; and
> information about health care is publicly available.
To learn from Canadians, the Health Council undertook several initiatives in 2007. We hosted in-person
dialogues in Halifax, Thunder Bay, and Vancouver and
online activities to hear from a diverse group of close
to 2,000 Canadians, including many with diabetes.
(See p. 45, “The Health Council of Canada consults
with Canadians”.) We commissioned Statistics
Canada to conduct a telephone survey of nearly 2,200
Canadians to learn more about their experiences
with primary health care and chronic illness care. (For
more on this survey, please see our data supplement
Canadians’ Experiences with Chronic Illness Care in 2007).
* The 2020 Vision of Patient Centered Care includes two other
actions that are not reported here because they require surveys of
physicians rather than patients. These two other actions are:
use of clinical information systems that support high-quality care,
practice-based learning, and quality improvement; and seeking
routine patient feedback.
What governments promised
The 2003 First Ministers’ Accord on Health Care Renewal committed
governments to speed primary health care reforms so that
Canadians routinely receive needed care from an appropriate
health care provider. The First Ministers agreed to the goal that by
2011, “at least 50 per cent of residents have access to an appropriate
health care provider, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
In the 2004 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care, this target
was described a little differently: “the objective of 50 per cent of
Canadians having 24/7 access to multidisciplinary teams by 2011.”
First Ministers agreed in 2003 to use comparable indicators on
key health outcomes and to develop the necessary data
infrastructure for reporting to Canadians. The 2004 plan committed
governments to establish a best practices network and
to continue to work with Canada Health Infoway, to realize the
vision of an electronic health record.
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 4
“ Patients want care which (a) explores the
patients’ main reason for the visit, concerns, and
need for information; (b) seeks an integrated
understanding of the patients’ world – that is,
their whole person, emotional needs, and life
issues; (c) finds common ground on what the
problem is and mutually agrees on management;
(d) enhances prevention and health promotion;
and (e) enhances the continuing relationship
between the patient and the doctor.”
We also worked internationally with other organizations to ask 3,000 Canadians, as well as 9,000 adults in
six other countries, about their experiences with health
care. (See p. 44 for more about this survey.)
35
We also asked federal, provincial, and territorial
governments about their recent initiatives in the area
of chronic disease management, so we could shine a
light on what is being done to enhance patient-centred
care for people with chronic health conditions. It’s
important to note that our survey results describe
Canadians’ experiences during the last one to two years
and don’t necessarily reflect the impact of changes
currently underway in the health care system. It will
take time before we see the effect of current reforms.
Dr. Moira Stewart, professor and director of the Centre for Studies in
4
Family Medicine at the University of Western Ontario
“ The doctor called me in and told me that I was
diabetic. He said that the diabetic nurse and
the dietitian would contact me. It took over a
month for the dietitian to call, longer for the
diabetic nurse. In the interim, I felt frightened,
and looked in books and on the Internet for
information. Every time I have needed to talk
to the diabetic nurse, it has taken a long time
to make an appointment. If we are going to
take care of ourselves, we need prompt access
to diabetic practitioners (even if we live in
northern BC).”
Health Council of Canada’s public consultation on health care renewal
and chronic illness, spring 2007
FIGURE 8
100
Canadians wait longer than
patients in other countries
90
Wait time for appointment when last sick or
needed medical attention in past 12 months
80
73
71
Same or next day
% of adults with select chronic health conditions*
70
2–5 days
63
60
60
60
6 or more days
* Select chronic health conditions include arthritis,
asthma, depression, diabetes, cancer, chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease
(including heart attack), and high blood pressure.
48
50
40 36
30
28
Source: The Commonwealth Fund 2007 International
Health Policy Survey of the General Public’s Views of
their Health Care System’s Performance in Seven
Countries.
30
27
25
25
24
22
21
20
20
13
12
11
10
6
4
0
Canada
Australia
New Zealand
United
Kingdom
United States
Germany
Netherlands
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
Do Canadians have access to needed care?
36
Through our surveys, we learned that the vast majority
of adults with chronic health conditions have a regular
medical doctor, have long-standing relationships with
these providers, and often visit doctors and nurses.
This is encouraging, as there is strong evidence that
people who have a regular source of care are less likely
to use emergency rooms or to be hospitalized.6 On
the surface, access to care looks sufficient, though we
recognize that in many communities people cannot
find local doctors to be their regular source of primary
health care. As we peel away the layers of questions
about access, however, we find that the news about
whether Canadians get care when and where they
want it is less positive.
> Use of health care increases as the number of chronic
conditions goes up, a pattern that signals our health care
system is serving the people most in need. People with
three or more chronic conditions consult with nurses
13 times a year on average, and with family physicians
seven times a year – in addition to any health care
services they receive during overnight stays in hospitals
(Figure 4, p. 19). In our international comparison,
Canadians with chronic health conditions visited their
regular primary care provider slightly more often than
in three countries (New Zealand, the United States
and the Netherlands) and slightly less often than three
others (Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany).8
> Most adults with chronic health conditions have a
regular source of care (98%) and have had one
for a long time. Over half have been seeing the same
primary health care provider for more than seven years
(59%), and many others have been going to their
provider for three to seven years (25%).7 A similar
proportion of adults have a regular source of care in
the six other countries surveyed: Australia, New
Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States,
Germany, and the Netherlands.8
FIGURE 9
100
Access to after-hours care
90
86
80
77
73
70
% of adults with select chronic health conditions*
70
73
61
60
48
50
40
34
30
20
10
0
Canada
Australia
New
Zealand
United
Kingdom
weekend hours
Source: The Commonwealth Fund 2007 International Health Policy Survey of the
General Public’s Views of their Health Care System’s Performance in Seven Countries.
56 56
54
evening hours
* Select chronic health conditions include arthritis, asthma, depression, diabetes,
cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease (including heart attack),
and high blood pressure.
68 67
60
Regular doctor or place of care offers:
United
States
Germany
Netherlands
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 4
> Canadians with chronic health conditions report that
they wait longer than in other countries. Only 36% of
37
> Too many people with chronic conditions visit emergency
departments, and often unnecessarily. Almost twice as
Canadians with chronic health conditions can get a
same-day or next-day appointment when they are sick
or need medical attention, the bottom place in our
seven-country comparison. In New Zealand and the
Netherlands, more than 70% of adults get this level of
timely access. Another 30% of Canadians wait six days
or longer to get an appointment, compared to 6% or
less in New Zealand and the Netherlands (Figure 8).
For routine or ongoing care, one in five Canadians
with chronic health conditions report difficulty getting
care when they needed it in the past year (20%).
Waiting too long for an appointment was the most
common difficulty cited.7
> Delays in accessing care occur despite the fact that
after-hours care from Canadians’ regular providers is
available at levels similar to most of the other countries
(Figure 9). This suggests that other factors, such
as the efficiency of scheduling systems, underlie international differences in wait times for appointments
and there is much that Canada can learn from other
countries to improve our situation.
many adults with chronic conditions in Canada (45%)
used a hospital emergency department in the past two
years compared to, for example, 24% in Germany.9
Among this group, many more Canadians report that
their emergency visit was for a condition they thought
could have been treated by their regular doctor if
he or she had been available (41% in Canada, compared
to 20% in Germany) (Figure 10).8
> Costs prevent few patients from seeing doctors and
getting tests, but more face financial barriers to drugs
and dental services. Some Canadians with chronic
health conditions report that they did not see a doctor
(4%) or skipped a test, treatment, or follow-up visit
(6%) because of cost. Slightly more did not fill a
prescription or skipped a dose because of cost (10%),
and even more did not see a dentist though they
needed to (23%). Financial barriers to chronic illness
care are least common in the Netherlands and more
common in Australia, New Zealand and the United
States, compared to Canada (Figure 11).
FIGURE 10
100
Avoidable visits to emergency departments
90
Used emergency department in past 2 years
Last visit to emergency was for condition that patient’s regular doctor
could have treated if available
80
% of adults with select chronic health conditions*
70
* Select chronic health conditions include arthritis, asthma, depression, diabetes,
cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease (including heart attack),
and high blood pressure.
60
50
Source: The Commonwealth Fund 2007 International Health Policy Survey of the
General Public’s Views of their Health Care System’s Performance in Seven Countries.
45
43 43
41
40
36
38
34
36
32
30
27
24
24
23
20
20
10
0
Canada
Australia
New
Zealand
United
Kingdom
United
States
Germany
Netherlands
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
Are patients engaged in their care?
38
> Not enough Canadians with chronic health conditions
are actively engaged in planning and managing their
care. Too few report that their primary care provider
Most Canadians with chronic health conditions report
that their primary health care providers communicate
well and spend enough time with them. But too few
patients are actively engaged in planning and managing
their care or get connected to helpful educational
resources and community supports. This is not good
news: self-management programs, for diabetes or
hypertension in particular, are effective at improving
health outcomes.13 People with chronic health
conditions must be actively engaged and supported in
adopting or maintaining a healthy lifestyle and in
managing their own medical conditions.
regularly considers their values and traditions when
recommending treatment (55%), asks about their goals
in caring for their chronic condition (34%), or helps
them create a treatment plan that they can carry out in
their daily life (44%).7 Only one-third report being
given a written plan or instructions by any health care
professional to help them manage their own care
(33%), compared to half of adults with chronic health
conditions in the US (51%).8
> Too few Canadians with chronic health conditions get
connected with educational resources and community
supports that might help them manage their own
conditions. Only around 15% are regularly encouraged
> Most Canadians with chronic health conditions report
that their regular primary care provider communicates
effectively. Their providers explain things in an
understandable manner (90%), know important information about their medical history (85%), offer
information about treatment options so as to involve
patients in decisions (81%), and spend enough
time with them (80%). Adults in other countries report
similar experiences.8
by their primary care providers to use a specific service
such as an educational seminar to help cope with
their chronic condition, attend programs such as
support groups or exercise classes, or see a dietitian,
health educator or counsellor.7
FIGURE 11
45
Financial barriers to care
40
40
38
35
35
% of adults with select chronic health conditions*
In the past 12 months:
Had medical problem but did not see doctor
because of cost
Skipped test, treatment, or follow-up
because of cost
30
28
26
25
23
Did not fill prescription or skipped dose
because of cost
27
Needed dental care but did not see a dentist
because of cost
22
20
20
18
15
14
15
* Select chronic health conditions include arthritis,
asthma, depression, diabetes, cancer, chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease
(including heart attack), and high blood pressure.
16
12
11
10
10
11 11
8
6
7
5
5 4
3 3
2 2
3
0
Canada
Australia
New Zealand
United
Kingdom
United States
Germany
Netherlands
Source: The Commonwealth Fund 2007 International
Health Policy Survey of the General Public’s Views of
their Health Care System’s Performance in Seven
Countries.
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 4
39
Is care coordinated?
Most Canadians with chronic health conditions report
that their primary health care and specialty care are
coordinated. This is positive, though higher responses
from patients in other countries suggest that we
could do better. Too few Canadians receive recalls and
reminders to coordinate follow-up care or to ensure
they receive the lab tests and procedures recommended
to prevent complications from chronic diseases.
> When Canadians have to see more than one doctor for
chronic illness care, most feel these providers do a good
job coordinating their care. Two-thirds report that
their regular doctor “always” or “often” coordinates
care from other doctors (63%). Among people who saw
a new specialist in the past year, most report that their
regular doctor helped them decide who to see (63%)
and provided that specialist with information about
their problem (78%).8 Although Canada is ahead of
other countries in this area, there is substantial room
for improvement to ensure that more Canadians with
chronic health conditions receive coordinated care.
“ I think the support I’m receiving is great ...
but it costs me too much to get meds and other
things, e.g. I have to go to a foot doctor and
only $10 of the $175 appointment is covered.”
“ I had to make a decision, continuing my university or working to pay for my insulin pump ...
I made the switch back to shots ... University was
much easier on a pump, I had better control
and the flexibility needed to live the student life.
Better control meant better focus, meaning
better grades and better scholarships.”
“ I dream of being one of those people who have a
great benefit plan and can have an insulin pump
and supplies paid for ... I am a Correctional
Officer in a provincial jail ... Even though I make
great money I often don’t have enough for
my diabetic supplies ... Then, I come to work and
watch as the nurse hands out hundreds, if not
thousands of dollars worth of drugs to the
inmates! ... perhaps it is time for us little people
to get a helping hand.”
Health Council of Canada's public consultation on health care renewal
and chronic illness, spring 2007
SELECTED ACTIVITIES FROM ACROSS CANADA
What is being done in Canada to improve access to primary
health care and chronic illness care?
In Saskatchewan, HealthLine has expanded to offer crisis support for people with mental health and addictions. Specially
trained social workers and registered psychiatric nurses are
available to handle crisis calls and provide referrals. HealthLine
provides 24/7 call centre access to health information and
advice and is offered in English, with translation in many other
languages including French, Cree, and Dene, and TTY access
for those with hearing and speech difficulties.
www.health.gov.sk.ca/healthline/
Effective October 2007 the Newfoundland and Labrador
Prescription Drug Program was enhanced to cap annual out-ofpocket drug costs at 10% of net family income; lower-income
individuals and families will pay no more than 5% to 7.5%.
www.health.gov.nl.ca/health
More children in Newfoundland and Labrador can access
dental care following an expansion of the Children’s Dental
Health Program, effective September 2007. The program now
covers regular preventive dental care for 13- to 17-year-olds
in families with low incomes, while still covering all children
age 12 and under.
www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/
In January 2007, Nova Scotia established an incentive payment
for family physicians who work evening and weekend office
hours.
In British Columbia, Practice Support Program teams help
10
family physicians to adopt advanced or open-access scheduling
to improve their ability to provide same-day appointments.
www.practicesupport.bc.ca/
New Brunswick committed funding in 2007/2008 towards the
development of a chronic disease management strategy for
diabetes to improve access to necessary medication, supplies,
and devices.
KO Telemedecine is a First-Nations-run program that serves
First Nations people living in remote communities in Ontario.
The program uses telecommunications technology such as digital
stethoscopes and patient exam cameras to enhance clinical
encounters and support community-based health education
and training sessions in remote settings.11 Partnering
with KO Telemedecine, the Kenora Area Health Access Centre
runs a diabetes eye screening clinic at White Dog First
Nation (Wabaseemoong Independent Nation) and uses teleophthalmology to offer clients with diabetes the chance to
receive care from an eye specialist.
http://telehealth.knet.ca
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
40
> When Canadians with chronic conditions need to use
hospitals, most feel their care is coordinated with their
primary health care provider. About two-thirds report
that their regular doctor seemed informed and
up-to-date about the plan for follow-up care after stays
in hospitals during the past two years (68%) and about
the care they received from the emergency department
(60%). Other countries do better: in Germany, 87%
of patients report good coordination after hospital
admission (Figure 12).
> Too few chronic illness patients in Canada receive
reminders about follow-ups or preventive care to help
avoid complications (39%) compared to adults in other
countries. For example, most US patients report getting
reminders (70%).8 In addition, most Canadians
were “generally not / almost never” contacted after a
visit with their primary health care provider to see
how things were going (62%).7
Is integrated and comprehensive care delivered by
health care teams?
Though most Canadians with chronic health conditions report that their health care providers work
well together, too few of these patients are served by
integrated health care teams. Health care teams are a
key component of patient-centred care. The integration
of health care professionals such as pharmacists
and nutritionists into teams of nurses and doctors –
with each actively participating in a comprehensive
approach to care – has been shown to contribute
to significantly better health among people with
chronic health conditions such as diabetes. Teams
are particularly effective when they include a case
manager who coordinates care, arranges referrals, and
follows up with patients.17
SELECTED ACTIVITIES FROM ACROSS CANADA
Since April 2003, Alberta’s Capital Health Regional Diabetes
Program has coordinated and integrated services for people
with diabetes. Physician referrals go through a central 24-hour
phone line to connect patients with an assessment team
(nurse, dietitian, and physician), education services, and referrals
to specialty clinics. While new referrals to specialists have
almost tripled, wait times have dropped from several months
to several weeks or days. In 2006, the region began screening
intensively for diabetes, with the goal of identifying 100%
of people with the disease or at high risk. With its central disease
registry that collects patient test results, the region has
identified more than 90% of people with diabetes and 59% of
patients have reached their treatment goals.12
What is being done in Canada to better engage patients
in managing their chronic health condition?
Through an initiative called Diversity and Social Inclusion in
Primary Health Care, Nova Scotia has developed Canada’s first
set of provincial cultural competency guidelines to address the
delivery of culturally appropriate primary health care.
www.gov.ns.ca/health/primaryhealthcare/diversity.htm
In Saskatchewan, the Live Well with Chronic Conditions program
is a six-week course led by trained volunteer peer leaders, many
of whom live with a chronic disease. Participants learn about
self-management, developing action plans and setting goals,
communication skills, and dealing with the symptoms and emotions that often accompany chronic illness.
www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/about_us/strategic/
transforming_live_well.htm
British Columbia added the Complex Patient Care Fee to its Full
Service Family Practice Incentive Program in April 2007, to
recognize that care of patients living with more than two chronic
illnesses is often complex and demanding. This fee is intended
to better support thoughtful treatment planning based on
patient goals and improved care coordination.
www.health.gov.bc.ca/phc/gpsc_incentive.html
The Vascular Intervention Program (VIP) at Group Health Centre
in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, studied whether patients at
high-risk for vascular disease could significantly reduce their
risk through a personalized action plan aimed at increasing
their involvement in making lifestyle changes and managing
their own health. The research project, co-funded by the
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, also focused on increasing collaboration among providers on the health care team.
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 4
41
> At most, only one-third get regular care from any
professionals other than doctors. Though people with
chronic health conditions may get these services
elsewhere, among the chronic illness patients who have
a regular doctor or place of care, only one-third report
that a nurse at the same location is regularly involved
in their care (33%). Fewer report that a health professional other than doctors and nurses work at their
regular place of care (18%).7 In contrast, about half of
adults in the UK and Germany have another health
professional such as a nurse regularly involved in the
management of their condition.8
> Canadians with chronic health conditions feel their
various health care providers work well together
at their regular place of care (89%), with professionals
who patients see at other places (89%), and with
other parts of the health care system such as hospitals
and specialists offices (89%).7
“ I have finally gotten my sugar under control
and I have lost 105 lbs! All of this could have
been underway when I was 20 [and diagnosed
with pre-diabetes], but I did not get the education from the beginning. I believe training,
education, commitment and resources are
the key to beating diabetes and maintaining
a healthy lifestyle.”
“ From my experiences, I know that pharmacists
have a lot to offer to patients with diabetes
and other chronic diseases like asthma
and COPD . They seem to be well educated on
these topics and seem willing to help in
any way they can. However, I feel that they are
not well utilized by the health care system.
... Possibly, if they were a part of clinics or
counselling-oriented services purely dedicated
to educating patients on chronic diseases
they could, and probably would, have a much
greater impact on the health care outcomes
of the many patients that see them.”
Health Council of Canada’s public consultation on health care renewal
and chronic illness, spring 2007
SELECTED ACTIVITIES FROM ACROSS CANADA
What is being done in Canada to better coordinate care
for people who have chronic health conditions?
As of April 2007, 32,690 patients in Quebec benefit from their
physicians’ use of an electronic health information system that
is based on sound application of research to practice. The
MOXXI (Medical Office of the Twenty-First Century) Research
Program at McGill University found that computer-assisted
intervention could reduce the number of potentially inappro14
priate prescriptions among primary care physicians.
Now MOXXI is testing the potential benefits of an electronic
prescription, drug and disease management system for
physicians, community-based pharmacists and their patients.
In the Yukon, the Diabetes Collaborative has improved coordination and collaboration among health professionals and provided
them an opportunity to learn and work together on activities
such as group patient visits for diabetes care. The collaborative
adopted British Columbia’s Chronic Disease Management
Toolkit.15
The Nova Scotia Primary Healthcare Information Management
program (PHIM) was Canada’s first program to electronically link
primary health care patient records with all provincial acutecare hospitals, providing electronic delivery of laboratory and
diagnostic imaging results.
www.gov.ns.ca/health/waittimes/ehr.htm#Prim
http://moxxi.mcgill.ca/moxxihome.html
The Collaborative Mental Health Care Network in Ontario
connects family doctors to mental health specialists who provide
advice in diagnosis, psychotherapy, and pharmacology. The
aim is to support family doctors in treating patients suffering
from mental illness, eliminating lengthy waits for psychiatric
consultations. This network is one of many resources highlighted
on a website created by the Family Health Team at McMaster
University for researchers and health care providers interested
in shared mental health care.
www.shared-care.ca and
www.ocfp.on.ca/English/OCFP/CME/CMHCN/
Nunavut’s telehealth network has expanded to additional communities as a result of “A Tool to Help People from Far Away –
The IIU Telehealth Network Initiative.” While the purpose of this
initiative was not to save money but rather to improve the range
of medical, social and educational health services available in
the North, Nunavut did realize economic benefits (conservatively
estimated at $1.6 million) largely as a result of reduced
travel costs.16
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
42
Is information about health care publicly available?
Helping teams deliver quality care
Patients should have accurate, standardized information
about physicians to help them choose a practice that
will meet their needs. Only limited information about
the quality of care delivered by individual physicians
or primary health care teams is available in Canada.
For example, some jurisdictions report wait times
for surgeries and other specialist care by individual
physicians.
What can be done to better assist interprofessional teams to
> Few Canadians with chronic health conditions try to find
information about the quality of doctors (such as reports
on patients’ experiences) to help them make health care
decisions (21%), though many who have looked found
useful information (65%). Many more adults in the
United States and Germany report seeking and finding
useful information (Figure 13).
improve the quality of chronic illness care? One approach is the
establishment of collaboratives, which bring health care
professionals together to adopt new ways of delivering care. They
learn about how to better engage their patients in managing
their chronic conditions, use tools and technology that help
patients get recommended follow-up care, and monitor the
impact of these changes. Evidence suggests that this approach
to teams improves health outcomes.18, 19, 20, 21 Chronic disease
collaboratives are underway in British Columbia, Saskatchewan,
and Newfoundland and Labrador, and their work is highlighted
in our March 2007 report Why Health Care Renewal Matters:
Lessons from Diabetes.
More survey results ...
Canadians’ Experiences with Chronic Illness Care in 2007:
A Data Supplement
www.healthcouncilcanada.ca
SELECTED ACTIVITIES FROM ACROSS CANADA
What is being done to increase the proportion of adults who
receive care from interprofessional primary health care teams
in Canada?
In Ontario, the Maple Family Health Team in Kingston illustrates
how the province’s 150 teams are increasing access to chronic
disease prevention and management programs. Family Health
Teams include doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists,
dietitians, physician specialists, social workers, health educators,
mental health workers, and/or other health care providers
depending on local needs.
http://maplefamilyhealthteam.ca/
The Northwest Territories’ vision for primary health care is the
Integrated Services Delivery Model (ISDM). This model is a
team-based, client-focused approach that will increase focus on
health prevention and promotion. Integration of services and
collaboration between different health and social services teams
is at the core of the ISDM.
www.hlthss.gov.nt.ca
In Saskatchewan, the M wayawin Health Services (formerly
known as Battleford Tribal Council Indian Health Services) runs
a nurse-led program to help diabetes patients manage their
blood pressure and has found that it significantly reduces the
number of patients who require kidney dialysis.22 This research
was part of a comprehensive chronic disease management
strategy for diabetes, which is now testing ways to help patients
monitor and manage their blood sugar.
An Ontario demonstration project (funded through the Primary
Health Care Transition Fund) called IMPACT (Integrating Family
Medicine and Pharmacy to Advance Primary Care Therapeutics)
assisted family practices in integrating pharmacists into their
health care teams, with the goal of improving patient outcomes
such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and pain
control. This project is profiled in the Health Council of Canada’s
commissioned report, Optimal Prescribing and Medication Use
in Canada: Challenges and Opportunities (May 2007).
www.impactteam.info and
www.healthcouncilcanada.ca
In New Brunswick’s Community Health Centres (CHCs) teams
of health professionals with complementary skills deliver
primary health care in several communities. As well as providing
illness care, CHCs focus on the wellness of individuals, families,
and communities, providing access to preventive programs and
services.
www.gnb.ca/0051/0053/chc-e.asp
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 4
FIGURE 12
100
43
Coordinating care
90
87
Regular doctor seemed informed and up-to-date about care
received in emergency department
80
76
73
68
% of adults with select chronic health conditions*
70
68
65
64
61
60
60
Regular doctor seemed informed and up-to-date about plan for
follow-up care after hospital stay
71
70
59
58
56
* Select chronic health conditions include arthritis, asthma, depression, diabetes,
cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease (including heart attack),
and high blood pressure.
Source: The Commonwealth Fund 2007 International Health Policy Survey of the
General Public’s Views of their Health Care System’s Performance in Seven Countries.
50
40
30
20
10
0
Canada
Australia
New
Zealand
United
Kingdom
United
States
Germany
Netherlands
FIGURE 13
100
Looking for information on quality of care
90
84
80
76
70
% of adults with select chronic health conditions*
Have you ever tried to find information about the quality of doctors,
including reports on patient satisfaction and experiences (past 2 years)?
If you tried to find information about doctors, did you find anything useful?
66
65
61
61
60
* Select chronic health conditions include arthritis, asthma, depression, diabetes,
cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease (including heart attack),
and high blood pressure.
Source: The Commonwealth Fund 2007 International Health Policy Survey of the
General Public’s Views of their Health Care System’s Performance in Seven Countries.
50
39
40
36
38
30
21
20
17
17
13
12
10
0
Canada
Australia
New
Zealand
United
Kingdom
United
States
Germany
Netherlands
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
44
Patient-centred care is not just a feel-good exercise.
By respecting chronic illness patients as partners in their
care, and by ensuring that care is well coordinated
among the different people they must see, patientcentred care makes a real difference to people’s health
and quality of life. In the last section of this report,
we use what we’ve learned from Canadians and from
research about high-quality health care to assess
how well Canada is doing and how we can do better as
a nation to improve the way we prevent and care for
chronic health conditions.
“It is frustrating to have an appointment with
the nurse, then go off to see the dietitian who
often changes my food plan ... A team meeting
would put everyone on the same page. We could
set goals and targets allowing all involved to
work collaboratively, rather then reading each
other’s notes and ‘going from there’.”
“The doctor cannot be expected to supply
the magic bullet in chronic health conditions.
We have to do our part. In order to do
so, people need the simple tools we can all
use, and the confidence and guidance to
apply them.”
Health Council of Canada's public consultation on health care renewal
and chronic illness, spring 2007
About the International Health Policy Survey
heart attack), or high blood pressure. Unweighted sample sizes
In 2007, Health Council of Canada joined other organizations
(N) of adults with these select chronic health conditions: Australia
to commission a telephone survey of Canadians, as well as 9,000
(N=612), Canada (N=1,500), New Zealand (N=536), the United
adults in six other countries, to learn more about patients’
Kingdom (N=722), the United States (N=1,522), Germany
experiences with primary health care, chronic illness, and other
(N=631), and the Netherlands (N=1,063).
types of care. The survey was conducted in Canada in French
or English between March 6 and May 7, 2007.
The 2007 International Health Policy Survey of the General
Public’s Views of their Health Care System’s Performance in Seven
A stratified sample of 3,003 Canadians 18 years or older who live
Countries was sponsored by The Commonwealth Fund with
in private households in 10 provinces and two territories partici-
Harris Interactive as the surveyor. Co-funding of the Canadian
pated in the survey. To produce an international comparison
sample was provided by the Health Council of Canada; the Dutch
useful for Canadians, the survey combines questions previously
sample by The Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and
used in health care research. Results presented in this report are
The Centre for Quality of Care Research (WOK), Radboud
weighted to represent the age and gender distribution of the
University Nijmegen; and the German sample by the German
Canadian population.
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care.
Here we present responses from adults who reported that a doctor
had ever diagnosed or treated them for any of the following
chronic conditions: arthritis, asthma, cancer, depression, diabetes,
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease (including
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 4
45
the health council of canada consults with canadians
In 2007, the Health Council hosted in-person dialogues in Halifax, Thunder Bay, and
Vancouver, and an online consultation with Canadians about chronic illness care. We heard
from a diverse group of close to 2,000 Canadians who have chronic health conditions
(diabetes, for the most part), have a family member who does, or know they are at risk for
developing a chronic illness such as diabetes. Participants told us about what is working
well in their experience and what needs improving, and they indicated their policy priorities
for the care and prevention of chronic health conditions:
What’s working well?
Concerns about care
Priorities for health care policy
A proactive approach to chronic illness
Difficult access such as long waits, long
Health care teams, which would have a
such as early diagnosis and prevention;
drives to urban areas, and cost barriers for
big impact on improving care for people
people with low incomes;
with chronic health conditions;
care and one-stop access to treatment
Unmanageable costs, sometimes affecting
Better support systems such as education
and information.
treatment options, for medical expenses
for self-care and help with affording
not covered by provincial health plans;
healthy foods and exercise.
Diabetes clinics offering interdisciplinary
What’s important in prevention
and treatment?
Poor quality of care, such as lack of help
A healthy lifestyle including diet and
learning to manage their diabetes and to
exercise;
make appropriate changes to their
Education to help people with chronic
lifestyles and diets;
illnesses manage and live healthily with
Too few government resources towards
their conditions;
preventing diabetes, investments that
Effective sources of emotional and
would save money in the long run;
information support for people, e.g. from
Poor cooperation among important
peer support groups, families, and
players such as governments and industry,
workplaces;
which share responsibility along with
Helpful and knowledgeable health care
workers.
patients and health care providers.
For more about this initiative ...
Health Care Renewal and Chronic Illness:
Report on a Public Consultation
www.healthcouncilcanada.ca
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
46
References
1 Ontario Health Quality Council. (2007). QMonitor: 2007 Report on
Ontario’s Health System. Toronto: OHQC. www.ohqc.ca
2 The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health
System. (2006). Framework for a High Performance Health System
for the United States. New York: Commonwealth Fund. www.cmwf.org.
3 Institute of Medicine, Committee on Quality Health Care in America.
(2001). Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st
Century. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
4 Stewart M. (2001). Towards a global definition of patient centred
care: the patient should be the judge of patient centred care. [Editorial].
BMJ; 322: 444-445.
5 Davis K, Schoenbaum SC, Audet AM. (2005). A 2020 Vision of
Patient-Centered Primary Care. Journal of General Internal Medicine;
20(10): 953-57.
6 Atun R. (2004). What are the advantages and disadvantages of
restructuring a health care system to be more focused on primary care
services? Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe, Health
Evidence Network. www.euro.who.int/document/e82997.pdf.
7 Health Council of Canada. (2007). Canadians’ Experiences with Chronic
Illness Care in 2007: A Data Supplement to Why Health Care Renewal
Matters: Learning from Canadians with Chronic Health Conditions.
Toronto: Health Council. www.healthcouncilcanada.ca
8 The Commonwealth Fund. 2007 International Health Policy Survey
of the General Public’s Views of their Health Care System’s Performance
in Seven Countries.
9 Schoen C, Osborn R, Doty MM et al. (2007). Toward higher-performance
health systems: adults’ health care experiences in seven countries, 2007.
Health Affairs; 26(6): w717-w734.
10 Murray M, Bodenheimer T, Rittenhouse D, and Grumbach K. (2003).
Improving timely access to primary care: case studies of the advanced
access model. JAMA; 289: 1042-1046.
11 Health Canada. (2006). Enhancing Access and Integrating Health
Services – Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) Telehealth/NORTH Network
Partnership Expansion Plan. Primary Health Care Transition Fund Initiative
Fact Sheet. www.healthcanada.gc.ca/phctf.
12 Every B. (2007). Better for ourselves and better for our patients:
chronic disease management in primary care networks. Health Care
Quarterly; 10(3): 70-74.
13 Chodosh J, Morton SC, Mojica W et al. (2005). Meta-analysis: chronic
disease self-management programs for older adults. Annals of Internal
Medicine; 143: 427-438.
14 Tamblyn R, Huang A, Perreault R et al. (2003). The medical office of the
21st century (MOXXI): effectiveness of computerized decision-making
support in reducing inappropriate prescribing in primary care. CMAJ;
169(6): 549-556.
15 Health Canada. (2007). Primary Health Care Transition Fund: Summary
of Initiatives – Final Edition. Ottawa: Health Canada. www.hc-sc.gc.ca/
hcs-sss/pubs/prim/index_e.html.
16 Health Canada. (2007). Primary Health Care Transition Fund: Synthesis
Series on Sharing Insights – Information Management and
Technology. Ottawa: Health Canada. www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hcs-sss/pubs/
prim/index_e.html.
17 Shojania KG, Ranji SR, McDonald KM et al. (2006). Effects of
quality improvement strategies for type 2 diabetes on glycemic control:
a meta-regression analysis. JAMA; 296(4): 427-440.
18 Asch SM, Baker DW, Keesey JW et al. (2005). Does the collaborative
model improve care for chronic heart failure? Medical Care; 43(7):
667-675.
19 Tsai AC, Morton SC, Mangione CM, and Keeler EB. (2005). A metaanalysis of interventions to improve care for chronic illnesses. American
Journal of Managed Care; 11(8): 478-488.
20 Piatt GA, Orchard TJ, Emerson S et al. (2006). Translating the
chronic care model into the community: results from a randomized
controlled trial of a multifaceted diabetes care intervention.
Diabetes Care; 29(4): 811-817.
21 Rand Corporation. (2006). Improving chronic illness care: evaluation.
[bibliography]. www.rand.org/health/projects/icice/findings.html.
22 Tobe S, Pylypchuk G, Wentworth J et al. (2006). Effect of nursedirected hypertension treatment among First Nations people
with existing hypertension and diabetes mellitus: the Diabetes Risk
Evaluation and Microalbuminuria (DREAM 3) randomized controlled
trial. CMAJ 2006; 174(9).
5
preventing and managing
chronic health conditions –
how can we d o bet ter?
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
What have we learned from Canadians with chronic
health conditions? They experience a poorer quality of
life; they use a large share of health care resources;
that there are serious gaps in the accessibility and
quality of their ongoing care; and they support public
investments to improve health and prevent disease.
48
What we’ve learned from Canadians illustrates why
health care renewal matters. It matters greatly
to individuals whose health and well-being are at
stake. It matters to families, communities and society
overall, since we collectively bear the burden of
failure to prevent chronic health conditions or
improve chronic illness care. Collectively we could
share in success if we take action together. We know
what to do and how to do it.
Promoting health and preventing chronic conditions
Canada’s governments are clearly investing in health
promotion and engaging in work to prevent chronic
conditions. In many cases, this work engages multiple
partners (within and outside of government) to
magnify the impact of societal investments that support
health. Some of this work addresses social determinants of health, which creates conditions that can
help Canadians make needed changes in the way we
live to reduce our risk for chronic disease.
100
90
80
4
8
9
10
15
15
21
16
23
20
21
60
30
1 select chronic health condition*
2 select chronic health conditions*
* Select chronic health conditions include arthritis, cancer, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and mood disorders.
31
28
40
† Consultations for any reason or diagnosis. Excludes consultations during hospital
overnights.
Source: Statistics Canada. Canadian Community Health Survey (Cycle 3.1), 2005.
30
% of all Canadians
Relative use of health care services: people with
multiple chronic health conditions* use a higher
proportion of professional visits and hospital care
3 or more select chronic health conditions*
50
20
10
FIGURE 14
No select chronic health conditions*
70
27
Governments could do much more to monitor and
report on progress towards achieving the country’s
health goals by setting and reporting on local targets.
Are we making progress? Without more routine
monitoring and reporting about the results of these
activities, it’s difficult to say. Are our investments
sufficient? Probably not, particularly in comparison to
what we spend on services for sick patients. We fund
failure (caring for people after they get sick) rather
than success (preventing avoidable illness). Consider
that the total expenditure on health care was
$141 billion in 2005 including $40 billion on hospitals
and $8.5 billion on public health.1 The lion’s share of
hospital spending goes to care for people with chronic
health conditions: the one-third of Canadians
with at least one of seven high-impact, high-prevalence
chronic conditions use more than 70% of all overnight
hospital stays (Figure 14). What if we funded success
(prevention) more aggressively by spending $40 billion
on public health? Might we then, when more
Canadians enjoy better health and well-being, be able
to spend many fewer billions on illness care?
68
49
45
34
28
0
Health care use
Health status
% of family
doctor / GP
consultations
used †
% of
specialist /
other-doctor
consultations
used †
% of nurse
% of hospital
consultations overnights
used †
used
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 5
49
Canadians understand that, without these investments,
we jeopardize our future health; with them, we help
secure it. In 2004, when the First Ministers released
their 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care, a national
survey asked Canadians about their policy priorities
for health care spending. Three-quarters of respondents (75%) said that focusing investments on “healthy
living” would have an impact. Half (50%) felt this type
of investment would make a “significant difference in
improving the quality of health care.”2 Surveys before
and since have found similar levels of public support.3, 4
Canadians endorse action by political leaders and
public servants to promote a healthy society and prevent
disease.
“Since our daughter was diagnosed with
[type 1 diabetes] at the age of two, we have
observed the differences in the level of quality
in treatment programs in different regions
across the country. We have sadly witnessed
that equal access to best practices is only
a dream in 2006.”
Health Council of Canada’s public consultation on health care renewal
and chronic illness, spring 2007
“In the future, countries with the best
health will be those that do the best job of
preventing diabetes.”
Dr. Doug Manuel, Senior Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences 5
OUR ADVICE TO GOVERNMENTS
Invest in success by ramping up initiatives proven to prevent
chronic health conditions and their complications. Adopt
an all-of-government approach (in other words, all ministries) to
engage the full range of public policy that can create the social
and environmental conditions people need to shift to healthier
lifestyles. Create productive partnerships with non-government
organizations, local authorities, and industry to harness
collective efforts supportive of health. Routinely measure and
monitor the impact of these investments.
OUR ADVICE TO CANADIANS
Continue supporting public investments in healthy living.
Take responsibility for your own health and your family’s, but also
recognize that we need a massive cultural shift to slow the
rise of chronic disease in Canada. Many factors affect whether or
not people can make changes in the way they live, and public
policy can make or break people’s chances of success. It took
decades – and many kinds of action – to reduce smoking and
smoking-related illness. We can do the same for risk factors such
as diet and exercise, but we must do it faster.
“Help those like me that can’t afford the meds
and maybe we won’t end up to be such a
drain on the hospital medical system down
the road ... but like my landlord, preventive
maintenance is not a top priority.”
Health Council of Canada’s public consultation on health care renewal
and chronic illness, spring 2007
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
The vast majority of Canadians with chronic health
conditions use health care frequently and have a
regular health care provider. More than 80% have been
going to the same doctor or clinic for at least three
years, including 59% who have used the same provider
for more than seven years, an indication of good
continuity of care.
offices about the need for follow-up care and referrals
to services that can help patients adopt healthier
lifestyles should be the norm for patients with chronic
health conditions, but they remain disturbingly
uncommon in Canada. Patients with chronic conditions
are no more likely than Canadians without these
problems to get advice or help from their regular health
care provider to change personal habits to improve
their health.
But getting timely appointments is too often difficult
for patients, resulting in unnecessary trips to
emergency; except for the US , Canada ranks worst
among seven countries in use of hospital emergency
departments by chronic illness patients for conditions
that could have been treated by their regular doctor.
Once people with chronic conditions access routine
and ongoing care, troubling questions remain about
the quality of that care.
Yet most Canadians with chronic health conditions
give a high rating to the overall quality of their regular
medical care (Figure 15). How should we make sense
of this apparent contradiction? It tells us that, based on
what most people know and expect from health care
providers, patients are satisfied with and express
confidence in the system. But it also tells us that many
people don’t yet appreciate how much better their care
could be.
Improving the accessibility and quality of
chronic illness care
50
Chronic illness care in Canada is far from being the
care that experts recommend6 and it is far from being
truly patient-centred. For example, patients generally
feel their providers communicate well, but too
few patients are encouraged to take an active role in
managing their conditions. Reminders from doctors’
FIGURE 15
100
Patients give high ratings to primary health care
11
90
Quality of care from regular doctor or place of care in past 2 years:
80
41
42
46
34
30
50
33
38
34
39
31
17
13
14
19
18
30
20
10
0
Very good
Good
Fair / poor
Source: The Commonwealth Fund 2007 International Health Policy Survey of the
General Public’s Views of their Health Care System’s Performance in Seven Countries.
60
40
Excellent
* Select chronic health conditions include arthritis, asthma, depression, diabetes, cancer,
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease (including heart attack), and high
blood pressure.
38
70
% of adults with select chronic health conditions*
29
41
8
Canada
7
4
7
Australia
New
Zealand
United
Kingdom
9
United
States
44
5
Germany
30
6
Netherlands
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 5
51
What we’ve learned from Canadians suggests that we
would all benefit if Canadians were more informed
and involved in the process of health care renewal, so
that political leaders, health care policy-makers and
managers have endorsement to invest in improving the
quality of care. In this report, we have highlighted
programs that are reorienting care to help Canadians
better manage and prevent chronic health conditions.
These are encouraging developments, but despite
years of talk, we’re still in the early stages of badly
needed reform.
Political leaders are likely to receive praise when they
invest in increasing the number of health care
providers, when in many cases the public might be
better served by strategies that would help our existing
providers work more effectively and efficiently.
In an earlier report, we demonstrated that improving
the quality of care for chronic conditions like diabetes
does not mean that people should simply see their
doctor more often.6 We may need more health care
providers – or more of the right kind of providers – for
a variety of reasons, but that alone will not improve
quality of care. It’s what takes place during those
health care visits that matters more.
“Many chronic care services being performed
by specialists and family physicians could,
and should, be provided by other health care
providers with changes to their scopes of
practice, if required. Looking at the four basic
indicators [recommended care] for annual
diabetes care – all of which are crucial
for patients – it is highly questionable whether
someone has to attend medical school to
ensure that a patient’s blood sugar is checked
twice a year and cholesterol levels, feet and
eyes are examined annually ...
To what extent does the system have to
provide additional financial incentives and
invest in expensive monitoring information
technology before all providers use simple
evidence-based guidelines to provide standard
appropriate care for their patients?”
Dr. Joann Trypuc and Dr. Alan Hudson, 2007 7
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
52
> Teams – Too few Canadians with chronic conditions
OUR ADVICE TO CANADIANS
have timely access to health care teams and case managers, despite strong evidence that their involvement
results in better health outcomes.
> Technology – Too few Canadians receive care from
providers who use electronic information systems that
help them learn about the quality of care they
currently provide and what they need to do to ensure
that care is aligned with expert guidelines.
> Training – Too few Canadians receive care from
providers who have the training and support to work
in teams, work more effectively, and work to improve
the quality of care.
Expect more from your health care system and the people
Changing the way we deliver care – to keep patients’
needs at the centre and ensure care is in line with
expert guidelines – will require a great deal of time,
attention, and money, but these investments
will pay off in better health for Canadians and a more
sustainable health care system.
O U R A D V I C E T O G O V E R N M E N T S , H E A LT H C A R E
POLIC Y-MAKERS, MANAGERS AND PROVIDERS
Invest in proven strategies that improve the quality of care
and engage people in managing their own chronic health
conditions. This requires a shift from a “find it and fix it” culture to
a “prevent it, find it, manage it” mentality. Focus particularly
on patients with multiple chronic conditions and on helping
patients prevent these complex health problems from developing;
these people have the worst quality of life and require more
intensive health care services. We continue to recommend a
redesign of the traditional family doctor’s practice to introduce
teams, technology, and training for change that will help
achieve better care for patients with chronic health conditions
and, ultimately, better health outcomes.
responsible for it. Give permission to governments and the health
care community to invest now and invest heavily in strategies
proven to be cost-effective at improving health care. Canada can
treat the causes of our less-than-ideal care for chronic health
conditions, but it will require that you hold high expectations.
Monitoring progress
Given the extent of the current and needed investments
in health promotion, disease prevention, and chronic
illness care, Canada needs a surveillance, or information-tracking strategy that can track our progress in
reducing the burden of chronic health conditions and
signal the challenges ahead. Surveillance systems
provide information about the health of Canadians so
that health care policy-makers, managers, and
providers can do their work – to improve health and
health care – as effectively as possible.
In Canada, we have national, provincial, and territorial
surveillance systems that provide data about how
many people have specific diseases, such as diabetes
or cancer, and some information about their health
care. There are also information systems that track
Canadians’ risk factors for health problems and our
use of hospitals. What we need are systems that can
integrate information about our risks for poor health,
the environments we live in, our ability to get the
care we need, the quality of the care we receive, and
the results of that care. To understand the impact
of programs and policies that hope to reduce risks
for disease or improve the outcomes of health care,
we need these integrated information systems.
To this end, the Health Council of Canada supports
a commitment in the Public Health Agency of Canada’s
Strategic Plan (2007 to 2012) to “streamline its
surveillance into a coherent and integrated national
surveillance system, positioning surveillance as a
strategic resource for the Agency – one that all key
stakeholders can maximize to its full potential.”8
LEARNING FROM CANADIANS / CHAPTER 5
53
O U R A D V I C E TO A L L O F C A N A DA’S G O V E R N M E N TS
Conclusion
Develop and use appropriate information systems that
What we’ve learned from Canadians strengthens the
case for immediate, comprehensive, and sustained
action to promote healthy living, prevent long-term
health problems, and improve care for people who
have chronic health conditions. As good stewards of
public health and public dollars, governments should
lead and sustain efforts to help Canadians maintain
the best possible quality of life and avoid unnecessary
illness. Canadians understand that, without these
investments, we jeopardize our future health; with
them, we help secure it.
support better tracking, research, and public reporting about:
the prevalence and distribution of chronic health conditions, risk
factors that predict whether more people will develop chronic
conditions, the results of investments in health promotion and
disease prevention, Canadians’ access to chronic illness care, and
the quality and impact of that care. A few provinces have made
great strides in developing this kind of information system locally.
Though the Public Health Agency has made a commitment to
develop a coherent and integrated national surveillance system,
each province and territory will need its own information to
manage its population’s health and health care system.
Without better data, those responsible for health care renewal –
References
political leaders, health care policy-makers, managers and
1 Canadian Institute for Health Information. (2007). National Health
Expenditure Trends, 1975-2007. Ottawa: CIHI. www.cihi.ca.
health care providers – are working in the dark. Without more
transparency and public reporting, Canadians will not be
well-informed about the results of these public investments, and
governments will find it increasingly difficult to make informed
decisions about investing in health.
2 Soroka SN. (2007). Canadian Perceptions of the Health Care System.
[Figure 32]. Toronto: Health Council of Canada.
www.healthcouncilcanada.ca.
3 Pollara. (2002). Public Input on the Future of Health Care: Results
from the Issue / Survey Papers. Prepared for the Commission on the
Future of Health Care in Canada. www.hc-sc.gc.ca/english/care/
romanow/index1.html.
4 Pollara. (2006). Health Care in Canada Survey 2006. www.hcic-sssc.ca.
5 CBC.ca News. (March 6, 2007). Prevent, manage diabetes:
report. CBC News.
6 Health Council of Canada. (2007) Why Health Care Renewal
Matters: Lessons from Diabetes. Toronto: Health Council.
www.healthcouncilcanada.ca.
7 Trypuc J, Hudson A. (2007). Chronic disease prevention and
management: some uncomfortable questions. [Commentary].
Healthcare Papers; 7(4): 29-33.
8 Public Health Agency of Canada. (2007). Strategic: Plan 2007 – 2012.
Five-Year Priorities for Action. [web page]. www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/
publicat/2007/sp-ps/SPPS-06d2-eng.html.
HEALTH COUNCIL OF CANADA
54
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The Health Council of Canada would like to acknowledge the
significant efforts made by the many people who collaborated
in preparing this report. We received invaluable assistance
from our government liaisons and numerous people who work
in population health and chronic illness prevention and care
across Canada.
The analyses and conclusions of this report do not necessarily
reflect those of the external members of the Steering Committee,
the research contributors or reviewers, or the organizations with
which they are affiliated.
The project was led by the Council’s Health Outcomes Steering
Committee, including Councillors and external members:
FIGURES
1 / PAGE 16
Councillors
Dr. Ian Bowmer (Chair, Health Outcomes Steering Committee)
Mr. Albert Fogarty
Mr. Steven Lewis
Dr. Danielle Martin
Dr. Robert McMurtry*
Mr. Bob Nakagawa*
Dr. Stanley Vollant
* retired from the Health Council of Canada September 2007
Chronic conditions are more common among lower-income
Canadians, women and seniors
2 / PAGE 17
Arthritis and high blood pressure are common chronic health
conditions
3 / PAGE 18
Canadians with chronic health conditions have poorer
health status and greater disability
External Members
Mr. Andrew Hazlewood, Assistant Deputy Minister,
Population Health and Wellness, Ministry of Health, Government
of British Columbia
4 / PAGE 19
Dr. Doug Manuel, Senior Scientist,
Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
Canadians with 3 or more chronic conditions spend many more
nights in hospitals
Dr. Claudia Sanmartin, Senior Analyst, Health Analysis and
Measurement Group, Statistics Canada
6 / PAGE 21
Dr. Sylvie Stachenko, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer,
Public Health Agency of Canada
7 / PAGE 31
Mr. Greg Webster, Director, Research and Indicator Development,
Canadian Institute for Health Information
The Council gratefully acknowledges staff at the Public Health
Agency of Canada who provided feedback during the report’s
development, as well as the following people who contributed
to the research and / or reviewed drafts:
People with 3 or more chronic health conditions consult with
nurses and doctors most often
5 / PAGE 20
Can changing lifestyles reduce health care costs?
Do primary care providers promote disease prevention and
healthy living?
8 / PAGE 35
Canadians wait longer than patients in other countries
9 / PAGE 36
Access to after-hours care
10 / PAGE 37
Avoidable visits to emergency departments
Dr. Anne-Marie Broemeling, Faculty, Centre for Health Services
and Policy Research, University of British Columbia
11 / PAGE 38
Financial barriers to care
Ms. Saira David, consultant
12 / PAGE 43
Ms. Teuta Dodbiba, consultant
Coordinating care
Ms. Saeeda Khan, Analyst, Health Information and Research
Division, Statistics Canada
13 / PAGE 43
Dr. Claudia Sanmartin, Senior Analyst, Health Analysis and
Measurement Group, Statistics Canada
14 / PAGE 48
The Commonwealth Fund 2007 International Health Policy
Survey of the General Public’s Views of their Health Care System’s
Performance in Seven Countries was sponsored by The
Commonwealth Fund, with Harris Interactive as the surveyor.
Co-funding for the Canadian sample was provided by the Health
Council of Canada; the Dutch sample by The Dutch Ministry
of Health, Welfare and Sport and The Centre for Quality of Care
Research (WOK), Radboud University Nijmegen; and funding
of the German sample by the German Institute for Quality and
Efficiency in Health Care.
Finally, the Council thanks the secretariat for their work on this
report, in particular Farrah Prebtani, Melissa Stephens, Diane
Watson, and Amy Zierler.
Looking for information on quality of care
Relative use of health care services: people with
multiple chronic health conditions use a higher proportion
of professional visits and hospital care
15 / PAGE 50
Patients give high ratings to primary health care
A B O U T T H E H E A LT H C O U N C I L O F C A N A D A
Councillors *
Canada’s First Ministers established the Health Council of Canada in the 2003 Accord on Health Care Renewal and enhanced
our role in the 2004 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care. We
report on the progress of health care renewal, on the health
status of Canadians, and on the health outcomes of our system.
Our goal is to provide a system-wide perspective on health
care reform for the Canadian public, with particular attention
to accountability and transparency.
GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES
The participating jurisdictions have named Councillors
representing each of their governments and also Councillors with
expertise and broad experience in areas such as community
care, Aboriginal health, nursing, health education and
administration, finance, medicine and pharmacy. Participating
jurisdictions include British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba,
Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick,
Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the federal government. Funded by Health
Canada, the Health Council operates as an independent nonprofit agency, with members of the corporation being
the ministers of health of the participating jurisdictions.
The Council’s vision
An informed and healthy Canadian public, confident in the
effectiveness, sustainability and capacity of the Canadian health
care system to promote their health and meet their health
care needs.
Mr. Albert Fogarty – Prince Edward Island
Dr. Alex Gillis – Nova Scotia
Mr. John Greschner – Yukon
Mr. Michel C. Leger – New Brunswick
Ms. Lyn McLeod – Ontario
Mr. David Richardson – Nunavut
Mr. Mike Shaw – Saskatchewan
Ms. Elizabeth Snider – Northwest Territories
Dr. Les Vertesi – British Columbia
VACANCIES
Canada
Manitoba
Newfoundland and Labrador
NON-GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES
Dr. Jeanne F. Besner – Chair
Dr. M. Ian Bowmer – Vice Chair
Mr. Jean-Guy Finn
Dr. Nuala Kenny
Mr. Jose A. Kusugak
Mr. Steven Lewis
Dr. Danielle Martin
Mr. George L. Morfitt
Ms. Verda Petry
Dr. Stanley Vollant
* as of December 2007
Concept and Design: HM&E Design Communications Illustration: Rachel Ann Lindsay
The Council’s mission
The Health Council of Canada fosters accountability and
transparency by assessing progress in improving the quality,
effectiveness and sustainability of the health care system.
Through insightful monitoring, public reporting and facilitating
informed discussion, the Council shines a light on what helps
or hinders health care renewal and the well-being of Canadians.
www.healthcouncilcanada.ca
To reach the Health Council of Canada:
Telephone: 416- 481-7397
Facsimile: 416- 481-1381
Suite 900, 90 Eglinton Avenue East
Toronto, ON M4P 2Y3
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