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Planning for what? Challenging the assumptions of health human resources planning


  • Tomblin Murphy, Gail
  • Kephart, George
  • Lethbridge, Lynn
  • O'Brien-Pallas, Linda
  • Birch, Stephen


Objectives Health human resource planning has traditionally been based on simple models of demographic changes applied to observed levels of service utilization or provider supply. No consideration has been given to the implications of changing levels of need within populations over time. Recently, needs based resource planning models have been suggested that incorporate changes in needs for care explicitly as a determinant of health care needs.Methods In this paper, population indicators of morbidity, mortality and self-assessed health are analyzed to determine if health care needs have changed across birth cohorts in Canada from 1994 to 2005 among older age groups. Multivariate regression analysis was used to estimate the age pattern of health by birth year with interaction terms included to examine whether the association of age with health was conditional on the birth year.Results Results indicate that while the probability of mortality, mobility problems and pain rises with age, the rate of change is greater for those born earlier. The probability of self-assessed poor health increases with age but the rate of change with age is constant across birth years.Conclusions Even in the short time period covered, our analysis shows that health care needs by age are changing over time in Canada.

Suggested Citation

  • Tomblin Murphy, Gail & Kephart, George & Lethbridge, Lynn & O'Brien-Pallas, Linda & Birch, Stephen, 2009. "Planning for what? Challenging the assumptions of health human resources planning," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 92(2-3), pages 225-233, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:hepoli:v:92:y:2009:i:2-3:p:225-233

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Denton, Frank T. & Gafni, Amiram & Spencer, Byron G., 1995. "The SHARP way to plan health care services: A description of the system and some illustrative applications in nursing human resource planning," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 125-137, June.
    2. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1992:82:6:816-820_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Andreas Werblow & Stefan Felder & Peter Zweifel, 2007. "Population ageing and health care expenditure: a school of 'red herrings'?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(10), pages 1109-1126.
    4. Linda G. Martin & Robert F. Schoeni & Vicki A. Freedman & Patricia Andreski, 2007. "Feeling Better? Trends in General Health Status," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 62(1), pages 11-21.
    5. Vicki Freedman & Eileen Crimmins & Robert Schoeni & Brenda Spillman & Hakan Aykan & Ellen Kramarow & Kenneth Land & James Lubitz & Kenneth Manton & Linda Martin & Diane Shinberg & Timothy Waidmann, 2004. "Resolving inconsistencies in trends in old-age disability: Report from a technical working group," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(3), pages 417-441, August.
    6. Mark Hayward & Bridget Gorman, 2004. "The long arm of childhood: The influence of early-life social conditions on men’s mortality," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(1), pages 87-107, February.
    7. Meena Seshamani & Alastair Gray, 2004. "Ageing and health-care expenditure: the red herring argument revisited," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(4), pages 303-314.
    8. Kenneth Manton & Eric Stallard & Larry Corder, 1997. "Changes in the age dependence of mortality and disability: Cohort and other determinants," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 34(1), pages 135-157, February.
    9. Breyer, Friedrich & Felder, Stefan, 2006. "Life expectancy and health care expenditures: A new calculation for Germany using the costs of dying," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 178-186, January.
    10. Stephen Birch & George Kephart & Gail Tomblin-Murphy & Linda O'Brien-Pallas & Rob Alder & Adrian MacKenzie, 2007. "Human Resources Planning and the Production of Health: A Needs-Based Analytical Framework," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 33(s1), pages 1-16, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mason, Thomas & Sutton, Matt & Whittaker, William & Birch, Stephen, 2015. "Exploring the limitations of age-based models for health care planning," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 11-19.
    2. Tomblin Murphy, Gail & Birch, Stephen & MacKenzie, Adrian & Alder, Rob & Lethbridge, Lynn & Little, Lisa, 2012. "Eliminating the shortage of registered nurses in Canada: An exercise in applied needs-based planning," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 192-202.
    3. Whittaker, William & Birch, Stephen & MacKenzie, Adrian & Murphy, Gail Tomblin, 2016. "Cohort effects on the need for health care and implications for health care planning in Canada," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(1), pages 81-88.
    4. Kuhlmann, Ellen & Batenburg, Ronald & Groenewegen, Peter P. & Larsen, Christa, 2013. "Bringing a European perspective to the health human resources debate: A scoping study," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 110(1), pages 6-13.
    5. Newbold, K.Bruce & Simone, Dylan, 2015. "Comparing disability amongst immigrants and native-born in Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 53-62.


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