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Unmet healthcare need, gender, and health inequalities in Canada


  • Bryant, Toba
  • Leaver, Chad
  • Dunn, James


Unmet healthcare need should be rare in nations with a universally accessible publicly funded healthcare system such as Canada. This however is not the case. This study examines the extent to which predictors of such need are consistent with various paradigmatic approaches (e.g., structural-critical, social capital, social support, and lifestyle) that consider such issues. Analyses of data from a probability sample of 2536 urban residents in British Columbia specified the relationship of unmet need with socioeconomic issues such as income, gender, and housing tenure, community issues such as social networks and social support, and traditional lifestyle or behavioural risk factors. The structural-critical model concerned with socio-demographics provided the most parsimonious explanation for having an unmet healthcare need. Consistent with a structural-critical approach, gender was found to be a reliable predictor of having an unmet health need in each of the models tested. Increasing federal transfers to healthcare and providing childcare and other community supports that are of special value for women may help to reduce unmet healthcare need.

Suggested Citation

  • Bryant, Toba & Leaver, Chad & Dunn, James, 2009. "Unmet healthcare need, gender, and health inequalities in Canada," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 24-32, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:hepoli:v:91:y:2009:i:1:p:24-32

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Artazcoz, L.Lucía & Borrell, Carme & Benach, Joan & Cortès, Imma & Rohlfs, Izabella, 2004. "Women, family demands and health: the importance of employment status and socio-economic position," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 263-274, July.
    2. Sheps, S.B. & Reid, R.J. & Barer, M.L. & Krueger, H. & McGrail, K.M. & Green, B. & Evans, R.G. & Hertzman, C., 2000. "Hospital Downsizing and Trends in Health Care Use Among Elderly People in British Columbia," Centre for Health Services and Policy Research 2000:10, University of British Columbia - Centre for Health Services and Policy Research..
    3. Hawe, Penelope & Shiell, Alan, 2000. "Social capital and health promotion: a review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(6), pages 871-885, September.
    4. Dunlop, Sheryl & Coyte, Peter C. & McIsaac, Warren, 2000. "Socio-economic status and the utilisation of physicians' services: results from the Canadian National Population Health Survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 123-133, July.
    5. Sanmartin, C. & Shortt, E.D. & Barer, M.L. & Sheps, S. & Lewis, S. & McDonald, P.W., 2000. "Waiting for Medical Services in Canda: Lots of Heat, but Little Light," Centre for Health Services and Policy Research 2000:5, University of British Columbia - Centre for Health Services and Policy Research..
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    Cited by:

    1. Han, Kyu-Tae & Park, Eun-Cheol & Kim, Sun Jung, 2016. "Unmet healthcare needs and community health center utilization among the low-income population based on a nationwide community health survey," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(6), pages 630-637.
    2. Connolly, Sheelah & Wren, Maev-Ann, 2017. "Unmet healthcare needs in Ireland: Analysis using the EU-SILC survey," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 121(4), pages 434-441.
    3. Röttger, Julia & Blümel, Miriam & Köppen, Julia & Busse, Reinhard, 2016. "Forgone care among chronically ill patients in Germany—Results from a cross-sectional survey with 15,565 individuals," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 170-178.
    4. Ko, Hansoo, 2016. "Unmet healthcare needs and health status: Panel evidence from Korea," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(6), pages 646-653.
    5. Park, Sojung & Kim, BoRin & Kim, Soojung, 2016. "Poverty and working status in changes of unmet health care need in old age," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(6), pages 638-645.
    6. Fiorillo, Damiano, 2017. "Reasons for unmet needs for health care: the role of social capital and social support in some Western EU countries," MPRA Paper 82680, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Vicky Barham & Hana Bataineh & Rose Anne Devlin, 2017. "Unmet Health Care and Health Care Utilization," Working Papers 1716E, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
    8. Philip Baiden & Wendy Dunnen & Barbara Fallon, 2017. "Examining the Independent Effect of Social Support on Unmet Mental Healthcare Needs Among Canadians: Findings from a Population-Based Study," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 130(3), pages 1229-1246, February.


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