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ICES study finds wealthy Ontarians have better access to MRI scans
Date:3/3/2009

TORONTO, March 3 /PRNewswire/ - Ontario wait times for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) have improved since the provincial government's Wait Time Strategy began in 2004. But a study out of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) has found wealthy Ontarians are now 38 per cent more likely to receive MRI scans than their poorer counterparts.

The study of 1,356,750 outpatient MRI scans done in Ontario between April 1, 2002 and March 31, 2007 found:

    -   At the beginning of the study, before Ontario's Wait Times Strategy
        began, a gap in access to MRI scans based on income existed. Patients
        living in the richest one-fifth of Ontario neighbourhoods were 25 per
        cent more likely to receive MRI scans than those living in the
        poorest one-fifth of neighbourhoods.

    -   During the next five years, during which approximately $118-million
        in Wait Times spending was injected for MRI services between November
        2004 and March 2008, the annual number of MRI scans performed in
        Ontario doubled.

    -   However, the increase in MRI use over the five-year period was
        largest for those in the wealthiest Ontario neighbourhoods, so that
        the gap in access to MRI between rich and poor widened. Patients
        living in the richest neighbourhoods are now 38% more likely to
        receive MRI scans than those in the poorest neighbourhoods.

    -   So, while Ontario's Wait Times Strategy has improved access to MRI,
        the findings suggest the improvements in access have not occurred
        equally amongst all Ontarians.

"We already knew from previous work that there was greater access to MRI scans for richer Ontarians. This study shows that access has improved but it looks like it has not been shared equally," says principal investigator and ICES Scientist, Dr. John You. "It's well known that, on average, poor people have
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SOURCE Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
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