Treating Poverty: Local Physicians Learn How to Help Patients at Risk of Poor Health from Poverty

Written by admin, April 29, 2015

April 29, 2015 – ** Today a group of 19 local physicians learned how they can improve the health outcomes of patients living in poverty in a special workshop delivered at Peterborough Public Health in partnership with the Ontario College of Family Physicians.

“The link between poor health outcomes and poverty are well known, so helping doctors connect their patients with vital social services is essential and can ultimately benefit the entire community,” said Dr. Ariella Zbar, a Medical Resident at Public Health who co-delivered the workshop.  “It truly takes a comprehensive, community-wide approach to reduce poverty, and this includes more affordable housing, mental health programs, developing more income support programs and educating healthcare providers about how their patients can access them.”

Poverty represents a significant and reversible risk factor for poor health. The half-day workshop was offered to family physicians practising in Ontario, with the goal of teaching a simple three-step approach to intervening in patients’ poverty through the development of relevant clinical skills and a deeper understanding of the federal and provincial income security systems and related resources.  Participants learned how to develop, analyze and put into practice an approach to income security benefits-based interventions to address poverty as a risk to the health of individual family practice patients.

Other learning objectives included:

  • Exploring a simple three-step approach to intervening into individual patients’ poverty in a primary-care setting
  • Developing an understanding of the Ontario and Canadian income security systems, including benefits for children, working-age adults, people with disabilities and seniors
  • Learning about three accessible, user-friendly web-based resources that can be used to navigate income support systems in clinical practice and become familiar them with one such resource: Canada Benefits
  • Employing and analyze a critical approach to income security programs that require direct physician input through an in-depth exploration of the Ontario Disability Support Program
  • Examining ethical challenges that arise in helping patients navigate the income security system

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Brittany Cadence, Communications Supervisor

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