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NOVEMBER 24, 2016

Why providers all over the country should screen their patients for poverty

The CEP, in collaboration with the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), has expanded Poverty: A Clinical Tool for Primary Care and tailored it for participating provinces and territories.

A Statistics Canada study shows that income inequality is associated with the premature deaths of 40,000 Canadians each year. Those living in poverty are more likely to experience diabetes; elevated risk of hypertension, arthritis, COPD, asthma, and multiple chronic conditions; cardiovascular disease at a rate of 17 per cent higher than average; 58 per cent higher rates of depression; and higher rates of lung, oral and cervical cancer.

The Poverty tool has been adapted for each province/territory based on key government and community resources to support positive interventions on a provincial/territorial level. It directs providers to use key questions and assess their patients’ living situations since poverty isn’t always apparent.

With the clinical leadership of Dr. Gary Bloch MD, CCFP, FCF, the tool has been designed to be used over a series of visits so providers may:

  • Screen all patients using a key question identified as a good predictor of poverty.
  • Consider that new immigrants, women, Indigenous peoples and LGBTQ+ are among the highest risk groups.
  • Understand that otherwise low risk patients who live in poverty are at higher risk for certain health conditions.
  • Intervene, educate and support patients to access tax and other government benefits and connect them with resources and services.

Click here to see our current set of national Poverty tools.

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