First pan-provincial report measures mental health and addictions care in five provinces
Canadian youth have poor access to mental health and addictions care according to the first report to measure mental health and addictions performance across the country. The report published today by a team of mental health and addictions scientists from five provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec) developed and generated the indicators using data already available from each of the five provincial health care systems.
“This is the first time in Canada that we have been able to compare mental health and addictions care across provinces and see how they measure up. What we found were striking variations in access and outcomes of care and a concerning theme of poor access to mental health and addictions care among youth,” says Dr. Paul Kurdyak, co-author of the report, psychiatrist and scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).
The report was conducted by researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health & Addiction (CARMHA) at Simon Fraser University, The University of Calgary, Alberta Health Services, Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit, Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and Institut national de santé publique de Québec.
“We need national reporting on the quality of mental health and addictions care in order to improve the way mental health care is delivered to patients right across the country. Stakeholders have been calling for national reporting on the quality of mental health and addictions services for nearly two decades in Canada and this report is a first step in being able to do that,” says Amanda Butler, co-author on the study, and research program manager at CARMHA.
The researchers add that measuring health care performance indicators has improved care in specific areas such as diabetes and cancer, but performance indicators for mental health services have lagged behind. The production and reporting of indicators across provinces has been hindered by limitations in data access, a lack of common definitions and analytic processes, technical capacity, and agreement on approaches to reporting.
The report used data from Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec to develop comparable provincial performance indicators for mental health and addictions. The six performance indicators are:
- Access to the same family physician for people diagnosed with a mental disorder or addiction.
- First treatment contact for a mental disorder or addiction is in an emergency department.
- Physician follow-up after hospital discharge for a mental disorder or addiction.
- Rates of suicide attempts among people diagnosed with a mental disorder or addiction.
- Suicide rates among people diagnosed with a mental disorder or addiction.
- Mortality of people diagnosed with a mental disorder or addiction.
“This report shows us that it was possible to develop standardized performance indicators that were comparable using existing data in multiple provinces. Future work would see the development of standardized processes to be able to streamline pan-provincial reporting, and engagement of other Canadian provinces and territories,” adds Kurdyak.
“Toward Quality Mental Health Services in Canada: a comparison of performance indicators across five provinces,” was published today on the CARMHA website.
Author block: Butler A, Adair CE, Jones W, Kurdyak P, Vigod S, Smith M, Lesage A, Bolton J, Madi N, Sareen J, Enns M, Rochette L, Rittenbach K, Bakal J, Youngson E, Clelland S, Bercov M, Santana M, Goldner EM.
The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of health care issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting health care needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy. For the latest ICES news, follow us on Twitter: @ICESOntario
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