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Intra-provincial variation in publicly funded mental health and addictions “services” use among Canadian armed forces families posted across Ontario

Garces Davila I, Cramm H, Chen S, Aiken AB, Ouellette B, Manser L, Kurdyak P, Mahar AL. Can Stud Popul. 2020; 47(1-2):27-39. Epub 2020 Mar 18. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42650-020-00027-7

Being a member of a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) family includes frequent geographic relocations, which may affect the use of mental health and addictions (MHA) services. This was a retrospective cohort study to examine intra-provincial variation in MHA services among CAF children, youth, and spouses posted across the province of Ontario using administrative datasets. Our sample included 5478 CAF children and youth, and 3358 female spouses who were relocated to Ontario between 2008 and 2012. CAF family members were assigned to one of five regions of the province based on their postal code. Publicly funded, physician-based MHA services included related visits to family physicians, paediatricians, and psychiatrists and emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations. Adjusted comparisons, including age, sex, and income, were made using linear, logistic, and modified Poisson regression. We found that the majority of our sample did not use MHA services following relocation. Among those who did so, we documented a small amount of intra-provincial variation. Children and youth living in the South East and “other” regions were less likely to see a family physician than in the Champlain region. Children and youth living in the North Simcoe region were more likely to have an MHA specialist visit and less likely to have an MHA ED visit than in the Champlain region. Female spouses living in the North Simcoe and “other” regions were more likely to have an MHA family physician visit than in the Champlain region. Our findings suggest that additional MHA support may be required to meet the needs of military families, in particular when relocated to MHA resource-poor areas of the country.

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