Health Soc Care Community. 2021 Feb 19. doi: 10.1111/hsc.13320. Online ahead of print.
Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world, affecting 1 in every 385 individuals. This neurodegenerative condition is unpredictable and variable in symptom profile and disease course making it difficult to manage. Canadians with MS are high users of healthcare services; however, they report multiple unmet needs, high disease burden, and low satisfaction with healthcare. Access to healthcare is vital to health maintenance and may explain these poor experiences. Access is often measured using utilisation as a proxy, which may fail to capture the complexities of access experiences that this population faces. The Candidacy Framework offers an alternative to utilisation measures, by examining the process of accessing care, while considering the impact of social patterning and health system environments on this process. The aim of the current study is to align the experiences of persons with MS in accessing healthcare services with the stages of the Candidacy Framework. Forty-eight individuals with MS living across Ontario were recruited to participate in one of five focus groups or ten individual interviews. Analysis included a first inductive phase, using constant comparative methods, followed by a deductive phase, using content analysis. The Candidacy Framework was not able to capture all experiences shared by persons with MS, including patient-centred care, past experiences and outcome expectation, and care outcomes. We propose these concepts be included as refinements to the current Framework, providing a more thorough explanation of the experiences of persons with MS in accessing care to manage their condition.