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Waiting times for surgery not affected by socio-economic status.

OTTAWA -- "In a universal health care system such as Canada's, it is important to determine if waiting times vary by socio-economic status", according to the authors of a study on waiting times. The system met the criteria of Canadians in the lowest third socio-economic status. They did not wait any longer for elective surgery than patients in the highest socio-economic group.

The study, Equity in Canadian health care: does socio-economic status affect waiting times for elective surgery?, was produced by Dr. Samuel E.D. Shortt, Director of the Centre of Health Services and Policy Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen's University and research assistant for the Centre, Ralph A. Shaw.

The project was designed to determine how well the health care system responds to patient needs by examining waiting times for surgery and other procedures.

The authors compared waiting times for elective surgery of patients living in low and high socio-economic areas.

Medical charts of all patients who underwent elective surgery at one Canadian academic health centre between 1992 and 1999 were reviewed. The researchers assigned each patient a socio-economic status by using five characteristics in the 1996 census data.

The research team then compared waiting times for surgery for 22 common procedures for people from the regions in the lowest third socio-economic group with that for patients from regions in the upper third group. The report notes that on average patients in the high group waited about 31.1 days while those in the low group waited 29.3 days. The only notable difference occurred for prostatectomy whereby patients in the high socio-economic group waited 4.4 fewer days than those in the lowest group.

(To read more on this report go to website:
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Title Annotation:discusses the study Equity in Canadian health care: does socio-economic status affect waiting times for elective surgery?
Publication:Community Action
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 17, 2003
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