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Availability of health workforce in urban and rural areas in relation to Canadian seniors

Ruolz Ariste

International Journal of Health Planning and Management, 2019, vol. 34, issue 2, 510-520

Abstract: Geographic imbalances in health human resources exist in a health care system when the composition, level, or use of health care providers does not lead to the same optimal health‐system goals in all regions. This can lead to inequitable distribution of health care services, particularly for rural and remote populations. This study aims to determine to what extent the distribution of regulated health professionals and seniors in urban and rural areas of the Canadian jurisdictions is different from one another and from the national average. Data used in this study are for the 2016 calendar year. Information about physicians was obtained from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) Scott's Medical Database. The data for nurses (nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and licensed practical nurses) were also sourced from CIHI, Health Workforce Database. Geographic information is based on the postal code of physicians' preferred mailing address, and the residence in the case of nurses and the population. Using the Statistical Area Classification from Statistics Canada, each physician and nurse was assigned to either an urban metropolitan, urban non‐metropolitan, or rural/remote area. Findings indicate that there were twice as many nurses per 1000 seniors in urban Canada than in rural Canada. However, this gap was threefold in the case of physicians. Provinces with the largest and lowest gap and international comparisons are also provided. Three broad strategies are offered for policymakers in order to mitigate this health workforce imbalance and reduce the regional shortage of nurses and physicians.

Date: 2019
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Handle: RePEc:bla:ijhplm:v:34:y:2019:i:2:p:510-520