Canadian Men’s Health Month: Examining Access to Care

By Waldo Beauséjour

June is Canadian Men’s Health Month. Established by the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, this month recognizes the importance of men’s health. This year’s theme is Move for Your Mental Health, encouraging men to get active to improve their physical and mental health. This initiative also helps to raise funds to support men’s mental health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way Canadians seek out care, whether they are looking after their physical or mental health. While more Canadians are turning to virtual care for their mental and physical health needs, the health needs and challenges of different populations are more apparent than ever. In a recent Infoway study about digital health equity, we examined some of the gender-based differences in access to care among Canadians.

Our study found that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, men aged 18 and over were at least 1.5 times more likely to lack access to a regular health care provider relative to women, which could potentially impact the continuity of their care. In addition, across all age groups, men were less likely than women to access electronically-enabled health services such as e-viewing personal health information and e-booking medical visits. In terms of patient experience, satisfaction with health care visits was lower among men compared to women.

Over the last year, Canadians have increasingly relied on technology to get the care they need — but while virtual care offers new opportunities, it can also pose new challenges. A quarter of men aged 25 years or over reported that reliable internet connection was a barrier to their use of digital health tools. Lower levels of health literacy among men can also pose difficulty; four in 10 men aged 25 and over felt that their understanding of their own health information was a barrier to their use of digital health technology.

Lack of regular access to care — or underutilization of care — can lead to worse health outcomes. Digital health technologies can be an important tool for Canadians to manage their own mental and physical health. As we get active this month, let’s think about how we can help improve men’s relationship with the health system. You can learn more about men’s unique health challenges and find resources at the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation. Be sure to read the Digital Health Equity Analysis for more information about access to care among different demographics.

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About the author
Waldo Beauséjour

Waldo Beauséjour

Waldo Beauséjour holds a master’s degree in Applied Economics. He currently serves as Senior Analyst, Performance Analytics at Canada Health Infoway. He has experience in applied social research and quantitative research methods for over 10 years. He has led and contributed to several quantitative surveys, research and impact evaluations aiming at investigating the impact of government-led or funded interventions on health outcomes.