"Inequalities in the social determinants of health and health inequalities are high and persistent across Saskatchewan," Neudorf said. "In most cases these inequalities are getting worse or not improving, despite ongoing work on closing the gap by the health system and intersectoral planners."
The new report focuses attention on three measures: all-cause mortality, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, a lung disease) and mental disorders. Data is also included for: asthma, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, injury, mood disorders, self-rated health, self-rated mental health, chronic stress, smoking, food security, fruit and vegetable consumption.
The study also found persisting gaps in educational attainment and employment and growing income inequality during the study period. Inequalities in social markers such as income, education and social supports in Saskatchewan correspond with higher mortality, and higher rates of COPD and mental disorders in those people living in the most socio-economically deprived areas of the province.
Dr. Neudorf said the report also highlights actions that can be taken by the health sector to mitigate the impacts of deprivation, with examples of actions being taken in Saskatoon and other regions in Canada. Dr. Neudorf also draws attention to the health and social benefits to be realized by adopting a comprehensive poverty reduction plan for the province.
"The time for action to reduce social inequalities in health should not be delayed, even in challenging economic times," he said. "Periods of economic downturn may be the most important times to invest in both improving the social determinants and reducing health inequalities."
The report and supporting documents are available for download at http://saskatchewanequitystudy.com/.
The Saskatchewan Equity Study is a Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation funded research project that investigates health inequalities in our province. The study is led by Dr. Cory Neudorf in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology and Dr. Daniel Fuller in the School of Public Health at the U of S. Both are members of the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU) and worked in collaboration with Upstream on this report.
Dr. Neudorf is available for interviews today from 1-2 pm and 3:30-4 pm.
For more information, contact:
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan