Putting healthcare equity under the microscope


November 19, 2020 (Vancouver, BC) – Arthritis Research Canada’s Dr. Cheryl Barnabe, senior scientist of rheumatology, is a team member on a new grant that seeks to examine how changes in the use of emergency services during the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted the health of First Nations peoples, socially and materially deprived, remote, and older populations.

This research will examine whether people used emergency department services less frequently during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how that affected the severity of health conditions and complications, such as deaths, when people did eventually seek care. The study will then determine whether those changes have been greater for people who are known to rely more heavily on emergency departments for their care, such as First Nations peoples, socially and materially deprived, remote, and older populations.

“In addition to public health measures including physical distancing, many patients who perceive hospitals as high-risk environments might avoid emergency department visits, even when seriously ill,” said Dr. Barnabe. “This can lead to health issues becoming worse and harder to manage.”

Alberta and British Columbia have seen a marked decrease in emergency department presentations while pandemic control measures have been in place. Harms associated with decreased emergency department use may be greater for some populations, who rely more heavily on emergency departments for their care for illnesses like arthritis.

“Not only do First Nations peoples have higher rates of arthritis, they are also less likely to get the care they need,” Dr. Barnabe said. “Access to emergency departments is therefore very relevant and likely to affect their arthritis care.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of our lives. Highlighting harms and inequities arising from pandemic-driven changes in care patterns and systems will allow policy- and decision-makers to reduce the negative consequences of efforts to manage COVID-19.





Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research institution in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific director, Dr. Diane Lacaille is leading a team of over 100 researchers, trainees and staff whose world recognized research is creating a future where people living with arthritis are empowered to triumph over pain and disability. Arthritis Research Canada is conducting research across Canada in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec and is affiliated with five major universities: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, Université Laval, and McGill University. Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at arthritis prevention, early diagnosis, new and better treatment, and improved quality of life.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:  

Heather Caulder
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
604-207-4010 or hcaulder@arthritisresearch.ca

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