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BC Health Atlas, Second Edition


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Publication Topics

BC Health Atlas, Second Edition

Publication TypeAtlas
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsMcGrail KM, Schaub P, Black CD
Date Published05/2004
PublisherUBC Centre for Health Services and Policy Research
ISBN Number1-897085-00-1
ISSN Number1499-8793
Citation Key539
Full Text

The BC Health Atlas, Second Edition, focuses on the period ending just before British Columbia formed six health authorities in 2001, marking a major shift in the delivery of health care services for the province. It displays geographic information in user-friendly map and graphic formats and highlights new measures of health status and health care service use, including premature mortality rate as a measure of need for health care services.

The Atlas maps health status and nine separate indicators of health care service use across the province, and explores the relationship between the two. Key findings include:

  • British Columbia boasted a generally healthy population in 2001. But the health of its residents and their use of health care varied markedly according to where they live.
  • The use of hospital services showed the strongest relationship to health status, with populations in poorer health showing much higher levels of use. Most other measures of health care service use showed a weak or non-existent relationship to health status - contrary what we might expect when using health status as a predictor of need.
  • Fraser - most geographically compact and populous of BC's health authorities - shows the highest overall health status. Northern Health Authority, with a small, highly dispersed population, displays the lowest health status in the province.
  • Aside from some clear local variations in health status and health care services use within the health authorities, there was no distinctive geographic pattern (north-south, urban-rural) to their variation.

The Atlas is designed to provide a starting point for understanding the geographic patterns of health status and health care service use in British Columbia, and to provide a baseline for examining how changes in service delivery have influenced the health and health care of BC residents. It is our hope that it will become a valuable planning tool for health care managers and administrators in BC, and we welcome your feedback.

Background Contents
An overview of the structure and content of the Atlas. How to use this Atlas describes the organization of maps and charts used later in the atlas, on health status and health care services utilization. Methods presents details on the major characteristics of data analysis and display. Health authority demographics provides basic geographic and population attributes.
Health Status Contents
This chapter provides context for the choice of premature mortality rate as a baseline measure of health status. We compare five commonly used measures of health status derived from mortality data, four of which have been available from the BC Vital Statistics Agency for many years. Premature mortality is introduced as an alternative measure, and is used to provide a framework for the remainder of the atlas.
Health Care Services Use Contents
Planning authority for health care services has traditionally been the purview of the provincial government. Over the past decade there has been a significant shift in this responsibility, with control over many services moving to the health authority level. One outcome has been the breakdown of some of the barriers between different types of service. Health authority control over a range of services means there is motivation to organize care more efficiently and to ease transfer between and among different types of care. This chapter depicts the way people within those areas use health care services.
Interpretation Contents
This chapter identifies overall patterns of connect and disconnect between health status and health care service use. The central feature of this synthesis is the level of correlation between premature mortality rate in each health authority, and the particular health care service use measure in the same health authority.
Resources Contents
Download reference and technical notes to the right.