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Research Summary / March 2021

Health care Access and Use Among Male and Female Canadian Armed Forces Veterans

Canadian Veterans are more likely than other Canadian to have chronic health conditions. It is important for Veterans Affairs Canada to understand challenges Veterans experience accessing health care services in the civilian system.

What is this Research About?

This paper examines Veterans’ access to and usage of health care. Comparisons are made among male and female Veterans, and also to the general Canadian population.

What did the Researchers Do?

Using data from the 2016 Life After Service Studies survey, the researchers examined health care access and use indicators for Regular Force Veterans. Information was available for both male and female Veterans. To make comparisons to other Canadians of a similar age, the researchers used data from the 2015 and 2016 Canadian Community Health Survey.

What did the Researchers Find?

  • Veterans, both male and female, generally had higher rates of health care use than other Canadians, especially for mental health care
  • Almost one-quarter (23%) of male Veterans and almost one-third (31%) of female Veterans had consulted a mental health care professional in the previous year. These Veteran rates of mental health consultations were approximately double those of the Canadian general population.
  • The majority of Veterans reported having a regular medical doctor (males = 82%; and females = 87%). These rates were similar to those of the general Canadian population.
  • Males (Veterans and Canadian general population) were less likely than females (Veterans and Canadian general population) to:
    • report an unmet health care need
    • have consulted a family doctor or any other medical professional for any health reason
    • consult their family doctor about their mental health
  • While Veterans had higher health care use rates than Canadians, they were lower than expected given the higher prevalence of chronic health conditions among the Veteran population, suggesting that some potential barriers remain.


MacLean MB, Sweet J, Mahar A, Gould S, Hall A. Health care Access and Use Among Male and Female Canadian Armed Forces Veterans. Health Reports, Vol. 32, no. 3, March 2021.

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