A new poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Diabetes Canada shows that once informed about the prevalence, severity and cost of diabetes, concern by Canadians about the disease markedly increases, placing it as their second priority for the Canadian healthcare system, just behind cancer. Nearly a third in BC and Quebec (30%), rank it as their top priority. Over 8 in 10 Canadians (85%) believe the federal government needs to work with the provinces/territories on a national diabetes strategy, with over 4 in 10 strongly agreeing. Seven in 10 feel not enough is being done to deal with diabetes in Canada.
A week in advance of World Diabetes Day, Diabetes Canada released the results of its national survey about knowledge, concern and perceptions of the disease as well as the experiences of those living with or caring for those with diabetes. The survey builds on its baseline 2018 study and combined with its clinical knowledge will help inform the country’s leading advocacy, education and fundraising charity for all types of diabetes in understanding how to better support the health of Canadians.
This year’s findings are similar to last year’s, but Diabetes Canada is concerned about Canadians’ continued underestimation of the severity of diabetes and the increased financial burden being felt by those living with or caring for those with the disease.
“Canada can no longer ignore one of the biggest health crises of our time,” said Dr. Jan Hux, President and CEO of Diabetes Canada. “Our country continues to face a diabetes epidemic. A nation-wide diabetes strategy, Diabetes 360˚, has the potential to create an environment in which the health of Canadians can improve, including for the 11 million people with diabetes and prediabetes. A $150 million investment today will save $20 billion in health-care costs and reduce more than 770,000 new cases of diabetes in Canada in just seven years.”
Canada has one of the highest rates of diabetes among developed countries, with roughly a third of the population having diabetes or prediabetes. Diabetes can be life threatening and accounts for 40 per cent of all heart attacks and 30 per cent of strokes. Our health care system spends $79 million treating diabetes every day, which amounts to $29 billion annually yet Canada does not have a comprehensive national diabetes strategy.
Canadians underestimate the severity of diabetes
Despite Canadians reporting being knowledgeable about diabetes, with more than half saying they know a lot or a fair amount about diabetes, there remains much misunderstanding about the disease and its severity.
- While 7 in 10 (71%) Canadians agree diabetes is on the rise in Canada, they greatly underestimate the chance someone who is 20 years old today has of being diagnosed with diabetes in their lifetime – which has 50/50 odds.
- only 5 per cent believe it’s a 50% chance or greater.
- Only a third (35%) of Canadians identified heart disease as a potential complication of diabetes. This is lower than (40%) 2018
- When asked what proportion of heart attacks in Canada are related to diabetes, over 4 in 10 said under 40% (43%), with half indicating they don’t know (49%). Forty percent of all heart attacks are related to diabetes.
- A minority of Canadians (18%) correctly identify that more than 20 Canadians die of diabetes-related complications every day. Half say they don’t know, and 3 in 10 believe it is 20 or less.
There is also little awareness of the cost of diabetes – both in terms of lives lost and the cost to the health care system in Canada.
- A minority of Canadians correctly identify that more than 20 Canadians die of diabetes-related complications every day.
- Half say they don’t know, and 3 in 10 believe it is 20 or less.
- Diabetes costs the Canadian health care system $29 billion a year. Canadians either don’t know (57%) how much is spent yearly on treating diabetes or greatly underestimate the cost, with 4 in 10 (39%) believing it to be $15 billion or less.
- However, 7 in 10 are concerned with the cost of diabetes to the healthcare system in Canada.
The Financial Burden of Living with Diabetes
Eight in 10 Canadians are concerned with the affordability of diabetes medication/devices, with 4 in 10 being very concerned. Over half are concerned with the availability of diabetes medication/devices in Canada, and about US patients potentially being able to purchase medication in Canada.
Those closest to the disease, those with diabetes or those caring for a loved one with the disease — continue to struggle. Few (34%) feel the government provides enough support for people living with diabetes and this year more say it is difficult to pay for health care bills related to diabetes.
- Eight in 10 (79%) of those closest to the disease feel it is difficult to pay for health care bills related to diabetes, with a third (35%) strongly agreeing. In 2018, just 24% strongly agreed and 7 in 10 felt it was difficult to pay health care bills.
- Seven in 10 believe that if people with diabetes were not reimbursed by public or private insurance for treatments, it would be a major financial burden to pay for these, which is a 10 percentage point increase from 2018.
- Four in 10 of those with diabetes are paying out of pocket expenses to treat their diabetes.
Diabetes Awareness Month is a time when communities across the country join Diabetes Canada in teaming up to bring awareness to diabetes and urge action to tackle the diabetes epidemic. For more information Canadians can visit diabetes.ca to assess their risk, get support, get involved and take action.
Methodology: These are some of the findings of two Ipsos polls on behalf of Diabetes Canada. The most recent was conducted between October 11th and 15th, 2019. For this survey, a sample of 2,002 Canadians aged 18+ were interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The second survey was conducted between September 30th and October 3rd. For this survey, a sample of 1,270 Canadians aged 18+ were interviewed. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled.
The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
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