An examination of perceived health care availability and unmet health care need in the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Jongnam Hwang, Sara J.T. Guilcher, Kathryn E. McIsaac, Flora I. Matheson, Rick Glazier, Patricia O'Campo

Abstract


OBJECTIVES: Although timely access to health care is a top priority, a burgeoning body of research highlights the important role of neighbourhood environments on unmet health care needs. This study aimed to examine an association between perceptions of neighbourhood availability of health care services and experience of unmet health care needs by gender in an urban city setting.

METHODS: A total of 2338 participants from the Neighbourhood Effects on Health and Well-being (NEHW) study, between 25 and 64 years of age and dwelling in the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, were included in the analyses. Four different logistic regression models stratified by gender were used to examine the relationship between neighbourhood health care availability and unmet health care need as well as the impact of neighbourhood perception of health care availability on the three different types of unmet needs.

RESULTS: Perceived health care availability was associated with higher likelihood of experiencing unmet health care needs in both women and men (women = OR: 1.58, 95% CI: 1.09–2.28; men = OR: 1.92, 95% CI: 1.23–2.99). In addition, perceived health care availability was associated with barrier- and wait times-related unmet health care need among women (OR: 1.83, 95% CI: 1.13–2.97; OR: 1.93, 95% CI: 1.10–3.40 respectively), and personal choice- and wait times-related unmet need among men (OR: 1.99, 95% CI: 1.10–3.58).

CONCLUSION: Individuals’ perception of health care availability plays a crucial role in the experience of unmet health care needs, suggesting the importance of community-based policy development for improving physical conditions and the social aspect of health care services.


Keywords


Unmet health care need; neighbourhood environment; access to care; Toronto; Canada

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.108.5715