Planning for what? Challenging the assumptions of health human resources planning
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OBJECTIVES: Health human resource planning has traditionally been based on simple models of demographic changes applied to observed levels of service utilization or provider supply. No consideration has been given to the implications of changing levels of need within populations over time. Recently, needs based resource planning models have been suggested that incorporate changes in needs for care explicitly as a determinant of health care needs. METHODS: In this paper, population indicators of morbidity, mortality and self-assessed health are analyzed to determine if health care needs have changed across birth cohorts in Canada from 1994 to 2005 among older age groups. Multivariate regression analysis was used to estimate the age pattern of health by birth year with interaction terms included to examine whether the association of age with health was conditional on the birth year. RESULTS: Results indicate that while the probability of mortality, mobility problems and pain rises with age, the rate of change is greater for those born earlier. The probability of self-assessed poor health increases with age but the rate of change with age is constant across birth years. CONCLUSIONS: Even in the short time period covered, our analysis shows that health care needs by age are changing over time in Canada.
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