Survey Takes the Pulse of Health Care in United States and Canada

Improving the U.S./Canadian comparability of health survey statistics

Between 2001 and 2003, researchers at the federal National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collaborated with their counterparts at the Health Statistics Division of Statistics Canada to conduct a telephone survey on a broad range of health topics in both countries using the same questionnaire.

The Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health is the first collection of comprehensive data on health status and access to health care services using a single survey and a standard approach across countries.

Key Findings

Researchers reported the following key findings in a report entitled Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health, 2002–03.

  • While, overall, most Canadians (88%) and Americans (85%) reported being in good, very good or excellent health, the range of health status was more polarized in the United States.

  • The primary difference in health status between the two countries appeared to occur among women.

  • Canada has a slightly higher percentage of current daily smokers (19%) compared with the United States (17%), but the United States had a much higher rate of obesity (21% versus 15%).

  • More low-income Americans reported poor health (31%) than did low-income Canadians (23%), although those with the poorest income in both countries reported the poorest health.

  • Overall, more Canadians (85%) reported having a regular medical doctor compared with Americans (80%).