A comparison of the COVID-19 response for urban underserved patients experiencing healthcare transitions in three Canadian cities

Can J Public Health. 2022 Jun 30. doi: 10.17269/s41997-022-00651-7. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVES: The COVID-19 pandemic and response has highlighted existing strengths within the system of care for urban underserved populations, but also many fault lines, in particular during care transitions. The objectives of this study were to describe COVID-19 response policies for urban underserved populations in three Canadian cities; examine how these policies impact continuity of care for urban underserved populations; determine whether and how urban underserved community members were engaged in policy processes; and develop policy and operational recommendations for optimizing continuity of care for urban underserved populations during public health crises.

METHODS: Using Walt & Gilson’s Policy Triangle framework as a conceptual guide, 237 policy and media documents were retrieved. Five complementary virtual group interview sessions were held with 22 front-line and lived-experience key informants to capture less well-documented policy responses and experiences. Documents and interview transcripts were analyzed inductively for policy content, context, actors, and processes involved in the pandemic response.

RESULTS: Available documents suggest little focus on care continuity for urban underserved populations during the pandemic, despite public health measures having disproportionately negative impacts on their care. Policy responses were largely reactive and temporary, and community members were rarely involved. However, a number of community-based initiatives were developed in response to policy gaps. Promising practices emerged, including examples of new multi-level and multi-sector collaboration.

CONCLUSION: The pandemic response has exposed inequities for urban underserved populations experiencing care transitions; however, it has also exposed system strengths and opportunities for improvement to inform future policy direction.

PMID:35771364 | DOI:10.17269/s41997-022-00651-7

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