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Appropriateness in health care delivery: definition, measurement and policy implications


A major focus of the current health care debate is the notion that a substantial proportion of the health care delivered in Canada is inappropriate. There are two types of appropriateness: appropriateness of a service and appropriateness of the setting in which care is provided (i.e., inpatient v. outpatient or home care). Measuring both types objectively requires the comparison of observed patterns of care with explicit criteria for appropriate care. The few studies of appropriateness conducted in Canada have shown that inappropriate services are provided and inappropriate settings are used. Reducing inappropriate health care delivery could involve active strategies for the implementation of guidelines and better cooperation and coordination within the health care system. However, lower rates of health care delivery or even inappropriate health care will not necessarily translate into higher quality care or lower costs overall.



Lavis JN, Anderson GM. CMAJ. 1996; 154(3):321-8.

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