Health Promotion

Health Promotion 

A key strategic goal of Doctors of BC is to achieve the highest standard of health care for the public in addition to creating a favourable social, political, and economic climate for physicians. Achieving these goals involves understanding public needs and advocating for them when appropriate as well as promoting matters that improve the health and safety of the public. To do this, we create policy on important health care issues and advocate for health promotion in a manner that influences positive change for the public.

Doctors of BC has a long history of this work primarily through the Council on Health Promotion (COHP), which has been in existence for over 60 years and has helped develop and advocate on policies relating to health promotion and disease and injury prevention. Examples of this work over the years include creating policy and advocating for the use of bike helmets, seatbelt legislation, cannabis regulations, and a ban on distracted driving. Our current and ongoing policy on key issues is outlined below.

Mental Health and Addictions

As evidenced by the ongoing overdose crisis, mental illness, problematic substance use, and addiction are health issues of significant concern in BC. Unfortunately, these problems can be exacerbated by fragmented services, under-funding, lack of support, and stigma. To speak to these issues, Doctors of BC has developed policy on depression, addiction, ADHD, and youth mental health.

Summary of Relevant Policy

  • Both addiction and depression should be recognized as chronic diseases, and should be treated with a chronic disease management approach.

Better helping individuals suffering from depression and addiction requires a collaborative approach among stakeholders to provide adequate service funding, reduce barriers to treatment, develop effective physician education, expand research capacity and continue to explore innovative improvements in quality of care. There are unique challenges related to youth mental health that can be addressed by increasing awareness of available youth-related mental health resources, involving family physicians in helping youth with mental health concerns, and collaboration by key stakeholders to improve capacity and accessibility of mental health services. Improving care for ADHD patients should involve developing a strategic plan for ADHD service delivery, supporting youth with ADHD in transitioning to adult care, reducing wait times for ADHD services, supporting collaborative care arrangements for ADHD patients, increasing access to ADHD medication, and utilizing ADHD practice guidelines.

Related Resources:

Open Mind Mental Health Tools & Resources

Doctors of BC Publications

Policy Papers:

Reaching Out – Supporting Youth Mental Health in British Columbia

Stepping Forward – Improving Addiction Care in BC

Stepping out of the Shadows – Collaborating to Improve Services for Patients with Depression

“Your Attention, Please” – Improving Access for ADHD Patients

Dementia

Dementia is a complex and degenerative condition that erodes an individual’s cognitive abilities and can be highly stigmatizing.

Dementia impacts a significant number of British Columbians and this impact is expected to increase with an aging population. In response, Doctors of BC has developed two key policies on dementia that advocate for improved care and an increased focus on prevention.

Summary of Relevant Policy

  • Care for dementia patients can be improved by increasing patient and healthcare provider education, providing comprehensive care, adopting a chronic disease management approach, and by considering a palliative approach to care when appropriate. 
  • It is important to reduce the impact and instances of dementia by prioritizing prevention, which should include encouraging healthy lifestyle behaviors and targeted health promotion interventions.

Doctors of BC Publications

Policy Papers:

Improving the Lives of People with Dementia

Building Bridges – A Call for a Coordinated Dementia Strategy in BC

Family Caregivers

Family caregivers are individuals who provide care and assistance, without pay, to family or friends with debilitating physical, mental or cognitive conditions. Research shows that the majority of home care is provided by family caregivers and yet they remain invisible in the BC health system. Doctors of BC has developed policy to identify how physicians and government can play a role in supporting family caregivers.

Summary of Relevant Policy

  • To support family caregivers and to realize their potential in the health system, they should be recognized as partners in care, they should be considered in health system planning, and they should have access to additional financial support and resources.
  • Physicians can be supported in involving family caregivers in patient care through CME training, increasing awareness of caregivers support programs, and practical resources to help guide physicians in incorporating family caregivers as partners in care.

Doctors of BC Publications

Policy Papers:

Circle of Care – Supporting Family Caregivers in BC

Disaster Preparedness and Health Emergency Management

Doctors and other health care providers play a critical role when disasters strike. However, doctors have not historically been part of emergency preparedness and planning processes which takes place in advance of a disaster. In recognition of the important role that physicians can play both before, during, and after a disaster, Doctors of BC has developed policy on integrating physicians in disaster preparedness and emergency management.

Summary of Relevant Policy

  • Physicians can be better incorporated into emergency and disaster planning by raising physician awareness of training and leadership opportunities, promoting practical resources to prepare physicians for emergencies, and by promoting CME training on emergency preparedness planning.
  • To better incorporate the health system in emergency preparedness planning, a Health Emergency Framework should be developed that clarifies the role of healthcare providers and agencies, incorporates a comprehensive communication strategy, and addresses the unique needs of vulnerable populations.

Doctors of BC Publications

Policy Papers:

Integrating Physicians in Disaster Preparedness and Health Emergency Management

Population Health

A population health approach recognizes that multiple factors contribute to the overall health of a population, and these factors are referred to as determinants of health. Improving the health of the BC population requires addressing determinants of health. However, efforts to improve determinants of health are often impeded by underfunding, silos in government and healthcare, and lack of targeted initiatives for vulnerable populations. As such, Doctors of BC has developed policy to speak to these gaps and advocate for improvements in population health.

Summary of Relevant Policy

  • Building on and improving ongoing population health efforts in BC can be done by increasing collaboration among government through a multi-stakeholder approach, prioritizing vulnerable populations, and supporting evidence-based preventative services.
  • Population health initiatives should not come at the expense of the availability of acute care, but rather both should be recognized as important.

Doctors of BC Publications

Policy Statements:

Population Health

Disease Prevention

Evidence points overwhelmingly to the value of preventive healthcare services. For instance, years of research have demonstrated that clinical prevention services such as childhood immunizations, smoking cessation advice, and health promotion programs deliver economic, social, and health benefits far beyond their initial costs. As such, Doctors of BC has developed policy in regard to the development of lifetime disease prevention planning.

Summary of Relevant Policy

  • Successful lifetime prevention planning requires partnership between patients, policymakers, physicians, and other providers whereby the family physician is recognized having responsibility for delivery and coordination of the plan.
  • Development and implementation of lifetime prevention plans should be based on the principle of patients as partners and include patients as a key voice in decision-making in their prevention plans.

Doctors of BC Publications

Policy Paper:

Partners in Prevention: Implementing a Lifetime Prevention Plan

Advance Care Planning

Advance care planning is a process by which a capable adult talks over their beliefs, values, and wishes for health care with their close family/friend(s) and a health care provider in advance of a time when they may be incapable of deciding for themselves. Advance care planning improves patient, family, and provider experience at the end of life by helping avoid overly aggressive treatment and increasing patient and family satisfaction with end-of-life care. Despite the benefits of advance care planning, many British Columbians have not developed and advance care plan. Therefore, Doctors of BC has developed policy to support physicians with their role in advance care planning and to encourage patients to develop an advance care plan.

Summary of Relevant Policy

Advance care planning can be expanded in BC by increasing training for healthcare providers, increasing awareness of existing advance care planning resources, integrating advance care plans with patient records, and improving communication between providers and patients with chronic and complex life-limiting illnesses.

Doctors of BC Publications

Policy Paper:

It’s Time to Talk: Advance Care Planning in BC