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Spatially exploring the intersection of socioeconomic status and Canadian cancer-related medical crowdfunding campaigns
  1. Alysha van Duynhoven1,
  2. Anthony Lee1,
  3. Ross Michel1,
  4. Jeremy Snyder2,
  5. Valorie Crooks1,
  6. Peter Chow-White3,
  7. Nadine Schuurman1
  1. 1 Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2 Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3 School of Communications, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jeremy Snyder; jcs12{at}


Objectives Medical crowdfunding is a rapidly growing practice where individuals leverage social networks to raise money for health-related needs. This practice has allowed many to access healthcare and avoid medical debt but has also raised a number of ethical concerns. A dominant criticism of this practice is that it is likely to increase inequities in access to healthcare if persons from relatively wealthy backgrounds, media connections, tech-savvy and educational attainments are best positioned to use and succeed with crowdfunding. However, limited data has been published to support this claim. Our objective in this paper is to assess this concern using socioeconomic data and information from crowdfunding campaigns.

Setting To assess this concern, we present an exploratory spatial analysis of a new dataset of crowdfunding campaigns for cancer-related care by Canadian residents.

Participants Four datasets were used: (1) a medical crowdfunding dataset that included cancer-related campaigns posted by Canadians, (2) 2016 Census Profile for aggregate dissemination areas, (3) aggregate dissemination area boundaries and (4) forward sortation area boundaries.

Results Our exploratory spatial analysis demonstrates that use of crowdfunding for cancer-related needs in Canada corresponds with high income, home ownership and high educational attainment. Campaigns were also commonly located near city centres.

Conclusions These findings support concerns that those in positions of relative socioeconomic privilege disproportionately use crowdfunding to address health-related needs. This study was not able to determine whether other socioeconomic dimensions such as race, gender, ethnicity, nationality and linguistic fluency are also correlated with use of medical crowdfunding. Thus, we call for further research to explore the relationship between socioeconomic variables and medical crowdfunding campaigning to explore these other socioeconomic variables and campaigns for needs unrelated to cancer.

  • crowdfunding
  • equity
  • cancer
  • spatial analysis

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors AvD, AL and RM contributed to developing the methods, conducting the analysis and writing the manuscript. JS and VAC contributed to method design, securing project funding and writing the manuscript. PCW contributed to data acquisition and writing the manuscript. NS contributed to method design and writing the manuscript.

  • Funding This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. VAC holds the Canada Research Chair in Health Services Geographies and a Scholar Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Data will be made available following publication via the SFU Vault data repository.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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