We Ask because We Care

The TRI-Hospital + Toronto Public Health (TPH) Health Equity Data Collection Research Project

In 2010 three of Toronto's most diverse hospitals, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Mount Sinai Hospital and St. Michael's Hospital, identified an acute need for quality patient socio-demographic data and launched a pilot project to develop an evidence-based approach for collecting this patient information. Toronto Public Health later joined this effort creating potential for broader impact within the sector. The organizations aimed to answer three key questions:

  1. What are the best methods to collect patient demographic data?
  2. What questions are most effective for capturing useful data while maximizing comfort of both staff and clients?
  3. What is the relationship between demographic factors (e.g. language, disability, etc.) and self-reported health?

Prior to launching the pilot project, the partners conducted a literature review and environmental scan, identified the demographic questions and developed training materials for data collectors. Data was collected on patients' race, age, preferred language to speak and read, length of residency in Canada, housing status, disability status, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation and income. A variety of data collection methods were used to reflect the unique patient populations of each site, while allowing the partners to examine the impact of different collection techniques on data quality. The data collectors gathered patient information through in-person interviews, paper copies and computer tablets in waiting rooms.

The project was an overwhelming success with a patient participation rate exceeding 85%. Given its potential for transforming patient care, the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (TC LHIN) issued a directive requiring all its 17 hospitals to begin collecting data from patients using eight core socio-demographic questions. Data collection and analysis is crucial to the health care system's ability to meet the diverse needs of Toronto's population and improve the quality of health care overall. Additionally, hospitals are finally able to know the patients they serve and better meet their needs.

Project Contacts:

Branka Agic, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), branka.agic@camh.ca

Marylin Kanee, Mount Sinai Hospital

Anthony Mohamed, St. Michael's Hospital

Ruby Lam, Toronto Public Health


For more information about Measuring Health Equity in the Toronto Central LHIN click here.

Click on the links below to download the project's reports.

Summary Report [PDF, 2MB]
Full Compendium Report [PDF, 4MB]


Recommended Citation for Reports: