Objective To examine the development and implementation of a novel income security intervention in primary care.
Design A retrospective, descriptive chart review of all patients referred to the Income Security Heath Promotion service during the first year of the service (December 2013–December 2014).
Setting A multisite interdisciplinary primary care organisation in inner city Toronto, Canada, serving over 40 000 patients.
Participants The study population included 181 patients (53% female, mean age 48 years) who were referred to the Income Security Health Promotion service and engaged in care.
Intervention The Income Security Health Promotion service consists of a trained health promoter who provides a mixture of expert advice and case management to patients to improve income security. An advisory group, made up of physicians, social workers, a community engagement specialist and a clinical manager, supports the service.
Outcome measures Sociodemographic information, health status, referral information and encounter details were collected from patient charts.
Results Encounters focused on helping patients with increasing their income (77.4%), reducing their expenses (58.6%) and improving their financial literacy (26.5%). The health promoter provided an array of services to patients, including assistance with taxes, connecting to community services, budgeting and accessing free services. The service could be improved with more specific goal setting, better links to other members of the healthcare team and implementing routine follow-up with each patient after discharge.
Conclusions Income Security Health Promotion is a novel service within primary care to assist vulnerable patients with a key social determinant of health. This study is a preliminary look at understanding the functioning of the service. Future research will examine the impact of the Income Security Health Promotion service on income security, financial literacy, engagement with health services and health outcomes.
- social medicine
- public health
- primary care
- preventive medicine
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Contributors MKJ assisted with the design of the study, collected the data, analysed it and helped with drafting and editing the manuscript. GB assisted with the design of the study and preparation of the manuscript. ADP led the design of the study, assisted with the collection and analysis of data and helped with drafting and editing the manuscript.
Funding This study was supported in part by the TD Financial Literacy Grant Fund. Dr. Andrew D. Pinto is supported by the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto; the Department of Family and Community Medicine, St. Michael's Hospital; and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval This study has been approved by the St. Michael's Hospital Research Ethics Board (14-415).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No additional data are available.
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