Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 96, Issue 3, pp 201–205 | Cite as

To What Extent Does Poor Health Precede Welfare?

  • Evan MorrisEmail author
  • David Rosenbluth
  • Doug Scott
  • Trish Livingstone
  • Lisa Lix
  • Mary McNutt
  • Felecia Watson



It is well known that individuals receiving social assistance have more health problems than those with higher incomes. In this paper, we estimate the proportion of social assistance recipients who were on welfare following a drop in health status.


The study population consisted of Saskatchewan adults who had been continuously off social assistance for 12 consecutive months followed by 6 months on social assistance. Health status was measured by the use of physician services. We examined changes in physician service rates during the 18-month period.


Forty-nine percent of individuals in the study population had increases in the number of physician services over the 18-month period. For these individuals, 53% of the increase in service use occurred during the 12 months prior to receiving social assistance.


Deteriorating health, as measured by increased physician service use, seems to be one factor that precedes many people’s receipt of welfare. A focus on improving health status may be one way to keep people off welfare.

MeSH terms

Socioeconomic factors low income population poverty social welfare utilization 



On sait que les bénéficiaires de l’aide sociale ont davantage de problèmes de santé que les personnes dont les revenus sont plus élevés. Dans cet article, nous avons estimé la proportion de bénéficiaires qui ont touché des prestations sociales après une aggravation de leur état de santé.


La population à l’étude se composait d’adultes de la Saskatchewan n’ayant touché aucune prestation sociale pendant 12 mois consécutifs, puis ayant reçu des prestations pendant 6 mois. Nous avons mesuré leur état de santé d’après leurs visites chez le médecin, en examinant les changements dans les taux de visite sur une période de 18 mois.


Quarante-neuf p. cent des sujets de la population à l’étude avaient eu recours plus souvent aux services d’un médecin sur l’ensemble de la période de 18 mois. Pour ces personnes, 53 % de l’utilisation accrue des services avait eu lieu au cours des 12 mois précédant leur entrée dans les rangs des assistés sociaux.


La détérioration de la santé, mesurée selon l’utilisation accrue des services d’un médecin, semble être un facteur qui précède le recours à l’aide sociale pour beaucoup de gens. Les mesures pour améliorer l’état de santé pourraient donc être un moyen d’aider les gens à ne pas dépendre de l’aide sociale.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evan Morris
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Rosenbluth
    • 2
  • Doug Scott
    • 3
  • Trish Livingstone
    • 4
  • Lisa Lix
    • 5
  • Mary McNutt
    • 6
  • Felecia Watson
    • 7
  1. 1.EcoTech Research Ltd.ReginaCanada
  2. 2.Saskatchewan Department of Community Resources and Employment (SDCRE)Canada
  3. 3.SDCRECanada
  4. 4.Saskatchewan HealthCanada
  5. 5.Department of Community Health SciencesUniversity of ManitobaCanada
  6. 6.Saskatchewan LearningCanada
  7. 7.Saskatchewan Cancer AgencyCanada

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