Navigation Links
Some family physicians' offices discriminate against people with low socio-economic status

TORONTO, Feb. 25, 2013Some family physicians' offices discriminate against people of low socio-economic status, even when there is no economic incentive to do so under Canada's system of publicly funded universal health insurance, new research has shown.

At the same time, offices appear to give preference to people with chronic health conditions, according to the research led by Dr. Stephen Hwang of St. Michael's Hospital.

In his study, published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers telephoned the offices of family physicians and general practitioners offices in Toronto playing the role of an individual seeking a primary care physician. They followed a script that indicated they had high socio-economic status (a bank employee transferred to the city) or low socio-economic status (welfare recipient) and the presence or absence of chronic health conditions (diabetes and low back pain).

The proportion of calls resulting in an offer of an appointment was significantly higher for people with high socio-economic status (22.6 per cent) than people with low socio-economic status (14.3 per cent). If an offer of a screening visit with the physician or a spot on a waiting list is also counted, the difference is 37 per cent for people with high status with 24 per cent for those with low status.

An individual with chronic health issues was significantly more likely to get an appointments than someone without 23.5 per cent compared to 12.8 per cent.

"Even in a system where doctors receive the same payment for every patient, regardless of the patient's income or occupation, we see evidence that some offices discriminate against people of low socio-economic status," said Dr. Hwang, a general internal medicine physician at the hospital and a researcher in its Centre for Research on Inner City Health. "This impairs access to primary care, and we don't think this is acceptable."

Dr. Hwang noted that the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons has a policy prohibiting "cherry picking" or screening of patients. Family physicians are expected to take patients on a first-come, first-served basis or, if they are not accepting new patients, offer to put them on a waiting list.

"Screening visits, or 'patient auditions,' are unacceptable," Dr. Hwang said, yet that is what nine per cent of the doctors surveyed offered. "Obviously that presents even more opportunities to discriminate."

Dr. Hwang said stricter enforcement of the college's rules would help prevent discrimination in access to primary health care.

Dr. Hwang stressed he was not trying to single out family physicians or suggest they discriminate more than other physicians or professions. He also noted that most of the telephone calls made by the researchers were answered by secretaries or administrative assistants, and their actions do not necessarily reflect the views of the physicians for whom they work.

Dr. Hwang was recently appointed St. Michael's first endowed Chair in Homelessness, Housing and Health. This is believed to be the first hospital-based chair in homelessness in the world. It will support research and innovation in the provision of care to marginalized populations, both locally and nationally.


Contact: Leslie Shepherd
St. Michael's Hospital

Related medicine news :

1. Many Who First Misuse Prescription Pills Get Them From Friends, Family: Report
2. Treating childhood obesity: A family affair
3. No family history not a good reason for women 40-49 to stop yearly screening mammograms
4. May/June 2012 Annals of Family Medicine tip sheet
5. Fitness Fights High Blood Pressure, Even With Family History
6. Keeping Your Family Safe From Dog Bites
7. Viewers family background affects how they react to MTV shows 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom
8. Does dinner make a strong family, or does a strong family make dinner?
9. Patient mental health overlooked by physician when a family member is present
10. New molecular structure offers first picture of a protein family vital to human health
11. Family first - caring within UK Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 2015 , ... The holiday season is jam-packed with family ... of attendees is of the utmost importance. Whether you are cooking at home ... recipes a try this holiday season. , Turkey Croquettes ,     Ingredients: ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Ministers, senior government and UN agencies, representatives ... of Excellence, and public R&D institutions, civil societies and other partners gathered today ... African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation, ANDI, Stakeholders Meeting. The three- day ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... Dental professionals who would like to become more proficient ... attend Dr. Mark Iacobelli’s Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM) CE course. Courses will be held ... the co-founders of Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM), Dr. Iacobelli and Dr. D’Orazio are proud ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Smiles by Stevens ... Bruxism, and moderate facial wrinkling. While many patients are aware of the benefits of ... success Botox® delivers to those suffering with discomfort, soreness, and pain as a result ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... “While riding the ... inventor, from Bronx, N.Y. “I thought there had to be a convenient and comfortable ... PROTECTOR. , The PROTECTOR enables disabled individuals to safely travel during cold or inclement ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... 3D bioprinting market is expected ... new report by Grand View Research Inc. Rising prevalence of ... kidney transplantation is expected to boost the market growth, as ... transplantation. --> 3D bioprinting market is expected ... new report by Grand View Research Inc. Rising prevalence of ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... the addition of the  "2016 Future ... Global Cell Surface Testing Market: Supplier ... to their offering.  --> ... of the  "2016 Future Horizons and ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... Research and Markets ( ) has ... Market by Type (Dressings, Therapy Devices, Active Wound Care), ... Facility), and Geography - Global Forecast to 2020" ... --> The purpose of this report ... the global advanced wound care market. It involves deep ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: