The role of proximity to death in need-based approaches to health care
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OBJECTIVES: This study examines the role of proximity to death (PTD) in need-based approaches to health care by: (1) investigating whether PTD is a statistically significant, independent predictor of health-care use; and (2) estimating PTD's marginal impact on need-based allocation of health-care resources. METHODS: The primary data source is the Canadian National Population Health Survey (NPHS), a longitudinal survey that uses vital statistics to confirm deaths of the respondents. We use two-part models separately for general practitioner, specialist, and short stay inpatient hospital services. We calculate per-capita allocation, with and without PTD, from the Canadian federal government to its ten provinces and by income groups. RESULTS: PTD is a robust and important predictor of health-care resource use for each service even after adjustment for other need and non-need factors. PTD's marginal impact on allocation is relatively small in the contexts we examined, but failure to include PTD could introduce inequity in allocation by disadvantaging populations with greater need. CONCLUSIONS: PTD is an important need indicator when modeling health-care resource requirements. It deserves greater attention in need-based approaches to health-care planning and resource allocation.
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