Impact of COVID-19: Unmet needs for rehabilitation services among Canadians living with long-term conditions or disabilities
Background: Rehabilitation services are considered an essential part of universal health coverage and an important strategy for achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring healthy lives and well-being for all. In Canada, the delivery of rehabilitation services varies greatly depending on the severity and type of health condition, affordability, and accessibility. The COVID‑19 pandemic has led to significant disruptions in the delivery of rehabilitation services. However, the magnitude and health impacts of these disruptions, and the resulting negative health outcomes remain unknown. Objective: We aim to investigate the magnitude, contributing factors, and self-perceived impacts of unmet rehabilitation needs during the COVID‑19 pandemic. Methods: We propose a cross-sectional study using data from a national survey conducted by Statistics Canada between June 23 to July 6, 2020. We will include 13,487 Canadians living with a long-term condition or a disability. Individuals with unmet rehabilitation needs include those who reported that they needed rehabilitation (i.e., physiotherapy, chiropractic) but did not receive it due to the COVID‑19 pandemic. We will use the information on demographic, socioeconomic, and health-related characteristics (e.g., age, gender, education, province of residence) to determine who was more likely to report unmet rehabilitation needs. We will use the self-reported measure of change in health to assess the possible deterioration in overall health during the COVID‑19 pandemic. We will stratify all analyses by age, gender, and province. Significance: Our study will provide crucial evidence of the impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic on the access and delivery of rehabilitation to Canadians living with long-term conditions or disabilities, and to other marginalized populations. We will work with knowledge users to guide the planning of rehabilitation services in the extended pandemic period and future pandemics.