Socio-economic status and health disparities should guide efforts to mitigate COVID-19: University of Toronto researchers

Policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic must take into account the complex interplay between socioeconomic status and health disparities, according to a recent analysis by a team of researchers at the University of Toronto.

The researchers’ article, published in the British medical journal, argues that poor, vulnerable and marginalized populations, as well as people with complex needs, bear the brunt of both the virus and the strategies used to contain it.

“Principles and methods drawn from decades of work showing that lower socioeconomic status is associated with poorer health should guide efforts to monitor and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and our efforts to contain it. “, said Geoff anderson, professor at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME) at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and lead author of the article.

While containment strategies such as physical distancing have helped “flatten the curve” and reduce the strain on the Canadian healthcare system, they have also had negative impacts on employment, social interactions, and family relationships. . These impacts are likely to be worse for people in lower socioeconomic groups, the researchers say.

For example, a recent ICES report found that Ontarians living in marginalized neighborhoods – as measured by ethnic concentration, residential instability, material deprivation and income – are more likely to test positive for COVID-19.

“There are deaths and quality of life impacts from the COVID-19 contraction and there are deaths and quality of life impacts associated with emergency response measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. spread of COVID-19, ”said Walter Wodchis, professor at IHPME and co-author of the article.

“We need to make sure that inequalities in socioeconomic status, age and ethnicity are measured and assessed on both sides of this equation for appropriate policy responses,” said Wodchis, who also holds a Research Chair in Implementation and Evaluation Science at Trillium Health Partners’ Institute for Better Health.

What is needed, according to the research team, which also included the president emeritus of the University of Toronto David naylor, professor in the Faculty of Medicine, provides reliable and timely data to identify those at increased risk, as well as proactive policies that support groups at risk and reduce inequalities.

“A lens of socio-economic status disparities would lead us to focus on protecting the most vulnerable members of our society and helping countries to better anticipate, mitigate and correct the inequitable health and societal effects of the pandemic. of COVID-19, ”said Patrick feng, an IHPME-based co-author.


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