We Ask Because We Care

Sociodemographic data collection has been a practice at South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) for many years. With efforts from many staff dedicated to influencing change in our health care system, the initiative aims to look at the social determinants of health that our clients face.

There is a desperate need to address health care inequities across the health care system. The collection of this data helps inform program development and delivery. Is there a gap in services being offered in languages which clients feel most comfortable speaking? Are there disparities in programs to support people living with chronic diseases? Is there a need to implement pathways to accessing primary care for newcomers and refugees? These questions aren’t possible to answer without the collection of sociodemographic data.

It is because of this data collection that we have been able to identify, for example, that 40% of SRCHC’s eligible East Asian client population have not completed their colorectal cancer screening tests. This data has presented SRCHC with opportunities to improve our programming to better reach this community of clients. Subsequent improvements have included providing educational materials on the importance of cancer screening and how screening can be accessed, in the languages that community members want.

Currently, SRCHC is in the process of rolling out an expanded set of sociodemographic questions; an initiative led and mandated by Ontario Health – Toronto Region. This includes an increased number of questions asking about important aspects of lived experience. The language of the questions has been carefully considered to ensure they are respectful and equitable, ultimately leading us to better understand the needs of our clients with regards to addressing health equity.

We ask because we care.