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Best practices for smartphone and smart-device clinical photo taking and sharing

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy13860

Date
2018-03-03
Topics
Health information and e-health
Ethics and medical professionalism
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2018-03-03
Topics
Health information and e-health
Ethics and medical professionalism
Text
Clinical photography is a valuable tool for physicians. Smartphones, as well as other devices supporting network connectivity, offer a convenient, efficient method to take and share images. However, due to the private nature of the information contained in clinical photographs there are concerns as to the appropriate storage, dissemination, and documentation of clinical images. Confidentiality of image data must be considered and the dissemination of these images onto servers must respect the privacy and rights of the patient. Importantly, patient information should be considered as any information deriving from a patient, and the concepts outlined therefore apply to any media that can be collected on, or transmitted with, a smart-device. Clinical photography can aid in documenting form and function, in tracking conditions and wound healing, in planning surgical operations, and in clinical decision-making. Additionally, clinical photographs can provide physicians with a valuable tool for patient communication and education. Due to the convenience of this type of technology it is not appropriate to expect physicians to forego their use in providing their patients with the best care available. The technology and software required for secure transfer, communication, and storage of clinical media is presently available, but many devices have non-secure storage/dissemination options enabled and lack user-control for permanently deleting digital files. In addition, data uploaded onto server systems commonly cross legal jurisdictions. Many physicians are not comfortable with the practice, citing security, privacy, and confidentiality concerns as well as uncertainty in regards to regional regulations governing this practice.1 Due to concern for patient privacy and confidentiality it is therefore incredibly important to limit the unsecure or undocumented acquisition or dissemination of clinical photographs. To assess the current state of this topic, Heyns et al. have reviewed the accessibility and completeness of provincial and territorial medical regulatory college guidelines.2 Categories identified as vital and explored in this review included: Consent; Storage; Retention; Audit; Transmission; and Breach. While each regulatory body has addressed limited aspects of the overall issue, the authors found a general lack of available information and call for a unified document outlining pertinent instructions for conducting clinical photography using a smartphone and the electronic transmission of patient information.2 The discussion of this topic will need to be ongoing and it is important that physicians are aware of applicable regulations, both at the federal and provincial levels, and how these regulations may impact the use of personal devices. The best practices supported here aim to provide physicians and healthcare providers with an understanding of the scope and gravity of the current environment, as well as the information needed to ensure patient privacy and confidentiality is assessed and protected while physicians utilize accessible clinical photography to advance patient care. Importantly, this document only focusses on medical use (clinical, academic, and educational) of clinical photography and, while discussing many core concepts of patient privacy and confidentiality of information, should not be perceived as a complete or binding framework. Additionally, it is recommended that physicians understand the core competencies of clinical photography, which are not described here. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) suggests that the following recommendations be implemented, as thoroughly as possible, to best align with the CMA policy on the Principles for the Protection of Patient Privacy (CMA Policy PD2018-02). These key recommendations represent a non-exhaustive set of best practices - physicians should seek additional information as needed to gain a thorough understanding and to stay current in this rapidly changing field. KEY RECOMMENDATIONS 1. CONSENT * Informed consent must be obtained, preferably prior, to photography with a mobile device. This applies for each and any such encounter and the purpose made clear (i.e. clinical, research, education, publication, etc.). Patients should also be made aware that they may request a copy of a picture or for a picture to be deleted. * A patient's consent to use electronic transmission does not relieve a physician of their duty to protect the confidentiality of patient information. Also, a patient's consent cannot override other jurisdictionally mandated security requirements. * All patient consents (including verbal) should be documented. The acquisition and recording of patient consent for medical photography/dissemination may be held to a high standard of accountability due to the patient privacy and confidentiality issues inherent in the use of this technology. Written and signed consent is encouraged. * Consent should be considered as necessary for any and all photography involving a patient, whether or not that patient can be directly recognized, due to the possibility of linked information and the potential for breach of privacy. The definition of non-identifiable photos must be carefully considered. Current technologies such as face recognition and pattern matching (e.g. skin markers, physical structure, etc.), especially in combination with identifying information, have the potential to create a privacy breach. * Unsecure text and email messaging requires explicit patient consent and should not be used unless the current gold standards of security are not accessible. For a patient-initiated unsecure transmission, consent should be clarified and not assumed. 2. TRANSMISSION * Transmission of photos and patient information should be encrypted as per current-day gold standards (presently, end-to-end encryption (E2EE)) and use only secure servers that are subject to Canadian laws. Explicit, informed consent is required otherwise due to privacy concerns or standards for servers in other jurisdictions. Generally, free internet-based communication services and public internet access are unsecure technologies and often operate on servers outside of Canadian jurisdiction. * Efforts should be made to use the most secure transmission method possible. For data security purposes, identifying information should never be included in the image, any frame of a video, the file name, or linked messages. * The sender should always ensure that each recipient is intended and appropriate and, if possible, receipt of transmission should be confirmed by the recipient. 3. STORAGE * Storing images and data on a smart-device should be limited as much as possible for data protection purposes. * Clinical photos, as well as messages or other patient-related information, should be completely segregated from the device's personal storage. This can be accomplished by using an app that creates a secure, password-protected folder on the device. * All information stored (on internal memory or cloud) must be strongly encrypted and password protected. The security measures must be more substantial than the general password unlock feature on mobile devices. * Efforts should be made to dissociate identifying information from images when images are exported from a secure server. Media should not be uploaded to platforms without an option for securely deleting information without consent from the patient, and only if there are no better options. Automatic back-up of photos to unsecure cloud servers should be deactivated. Further, other back-up or syncing options that could lead to unsecure server involvement should be ascertained and the risks mitigated. 4. Cloud storage should be on a Canadian and SOCII certified server. Explicit, informed consent is required otherwise due to privacy concerns for servers in other jurisdictions. 5. AUDIT & RETENTION * It is important to create an audit trail for the purposes of transparency and medical best practice. Key information includes patient and health information, consent type and details, pertinent information regarding the photography (date, circumstance, photographer), and any other important facts such as access granted/deletion requests. * Access to the stored information must be by the authorized physician or health care provider and for the intended purpose, as per the consent given. Records should be stored such that it is possible to print/transfer as necessary. * Original photos should be retained and not overwritten. * All photos and associated messages may be considered part of the patient's clinical records and should be maintained for at least 10 years or 10 years after the age of majority, whichever is longer. When possible, patient information (including photos and message histories between health professionals) should be retained and amalgamated with a patient's medical record. Provincial regulations regarding retention of clinical records may vary and other regulations may apply to other entities - e.g. 90 years from date of birth applies to records at the federal level. * It may not be allowable to erase a picture if it is integral to a clinical decision or provincial, federal, or other applicable regulations require their retention. 6. BREACH * Any breach should be taken seriously and should be reviewed. All reasonable efforts must be made to prevent a breach before one occurs. A breach occurs when personal information, communication, or photos of patients are stolen, lost, or mistakenly disclosed. This includes loss or theft of one's mobile device, texting to the wrong number or emailing/messaging to the wrong person(s), or accidentally showing a clinical photo that exists in the phone's personal photo album. * It should be noted that non-identifying information, when combined with other available information (e.g. a text message with identifiers or another image with identifiers), can lead to highly accurate re-identification. * At present, apps downloaded to a smart-device for personal use may be capable of collecting and sharing information - the rapidly changing nature of this technology and the inherent privacy concerns requires regular attention. Use of specialized apps designed for health-information sharing that help safeguard patient information in this context is worth careful consideration. * Having remote wipe (i.e. device reformatting) capabilities is an asset and can help contain a breach. However, inappropriate access may take place before reformatting occurs. * If a smartphone is strongly encrypted and has no clinical photos stored locally then its loss may not be considered a breach. * In the event of a breach any patient potentially involved must be notified as soon as possible. The CMPA, the organization/hospital, and the Provincial licensing College should also be contacted immediately. Provincial regulations regarding notification of breach may vary. Approved by the CMA Board of Directors March 2018 References i Heyns M†, Steve A‡, Dumestre DO‡, Fraulin FO‡, Yeung JK‡ † University of Calgary, Canada ‡ Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Calgary, Canada 1 Chan N, Charette J, Dumestre DO, Fraulin FO. Should 'smart phones' be used for patient photography? Plast Surg (Oakv). 2016;24(1):32-4. 2 Unpublished - Heyns M, Steve A, Dumestre DO, Fraulin FO, Yeung J. Canadian Guidelines on Smartphone Clinical Photography.

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CMA Code of Ethics and Professionalism

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy13937

Date
2018-12-08
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  3 documents  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2018-12-08
Replaces
Code of ethics of the Canadian Medical Association (Update 2004)
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
CMA CODE OF ETHICS AND PROFESSIONALISM Compassion A compassionate physician recognizes suffering and vulnerability, seeks to understand the unique circumstances of each patient and to alleviate the patient’s suffering, and accompanies the suffering and vulnerable patient. Honesty An honest physician is forthright, respects the truth, and does their best to seek, preserve, and communicate that truth sensitively and respectfully. Humility A humble physician acknowledges and is cautious not to overstep the limits of their knowledge and skills or the limits of medicine, seeks advice and support from colleagues in challenging circumstances, and recognizes the patient’s knowledge of their own circumstances. Integrity A physician who acts with integrity demonstrates consistency in their intentions and actions and acts in a truthful manner in accordance with professional expectations, even in the face of adversity. Prudence A prudent physician uses clinical and moral reasoning and judgement, considers all relevant knowledge and circumstances, and makes decisions carefully, in good conscience, and with due regard for principles of exemplary medical care. The CMA Code of Ethics and Professionalism articulates the ethical and professional commitments and responsibilities of the medical profession. The Code provides standards of ethical practice to guide physicians in fulfilling their obligation to provide the highest standard of care and to foster patient and public trust in physicians and the profession. The Code is founded on and affirms the core values and commitments of the profession and outlines responsibilities related to contemporary medical practice. In this Code, ethical practice is understood as a process of active inquiry, reflection, and decision-making concerning what a physician’s actions should be and the reasons for these actions. The Code informs ethical decision-making, especially in situations where existing guidelines are insufficient or where values and principles are in tension. The Code is not exhaustive; it is intended to provide standards of ethical practice that can be interpreted and applied in particular situations. The Code and other CMA policies constitute guidelines that provide a common ethical framework for physicians in Canada. In this Code, medical ethics concerns the virtues, values, and principles that should guide the medical profession, while professionalism is the embodiment or enactment of responsibilities arising from those norms through standards, competencies, and behaviours. Together, the virtues and commitments outlined in the Code are fundamental to the ethical practice of medicine. Physicians should aspire to uphold the virtues and commitments in the Code, and they are expected to enact the professional responsibilities outlined in it. Physicians should be aware of the legal and regulatory requirements that govern medical practice in their jurisdictions. Trust is the cornerstone of the patient–physician relationship and of medical professionalism. Trust is therefore central to providing the highest standard of care and to the ethical practice of medicine. Physicians enhance trustworthiness in the profession by striving to uphold the following interdependent virtues: A. VIRTUES EXEMPLIFIED BY THE ETHICAL PHYSICIAN 2 B. FUNDAMENTAL COMMITMENTS OF THE MEDICAL PROFESSION Consider first the well-being of the patient; always act to benefit the patient and promote the good of the patient. Provide appropriate care and management across the care continuum. Take all reasonable steps to prevent or minimize harm to the patient; disclose to the patient if there is a risk of harm or if harm has occurred. Recognize the balance of potential benefits and harms associated with any medical act; act to bring about a positive balance of benefits over harms. Commitment to the well-being of the patient Promote the well-being of communities and populations by striving to improve health outcomes and access to care, reduce health inequities and disparities in care, and promote social accountability. Commitment to justice Practise medicine competently, safely, and with integrity; avoid any influence that could undermine your professional integrity. Develop and advance your professional knowledge, skills, and competencies through lifelong learning. Commitment to professional integrity and competence Always treat the patient with dignity and respect the equal and intrinsic worth of all persons. Always respect the autonomy of the patient. Never exploit the patient for personal advantage. Never participate in or support practices that violate basic human rights. Commitment to respect for persons Contribute to the development and innovation in medicine through clinical practice, research, teaching, mentorship, leadership, quality improvement, administration, or advocacy on behalf of the profession or the public. Participate in establishing and maintaining professional standards and engage in processes that support the institutions involved in the regulation of the profession. Cultivate collaborative and respectful relationships with physicians and learners in all areas of medicine and with other colleagues and partners in health care. Commitment to professional excellence Value personal health and wellness and strive to model self-care; take steps to optimize meaningful co-existence of professional and personal life. Value and promote a training and practice culture that supports and responds effectively to colleagues in need and empowers them to seek help to improve their physical, mental, and social well-being. Recognize and act on the understanding that physician health and wellness needs to be addressed at individual and systemic levels, in a model of shared responsibility. Commitment to self-care and peer support Value and foster individual and collective inquiry and reflection to further medical science and to facilitate ethical decision-making. Foster curiosity and exploration to further your personal and professional development and insight; be open to new knowledge, technologies, ways of practising, and learning from others. Commitment to inquiry and reflection 3 C. PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES The patient–physician relationship is at the heart of the practice of medicine. It is a relationship of trust that recognizes the inherent vulnerability of the patient even as the patient is an active participant in their own care. The physician owes a duty of loyalty to protect and further the patient’s best interests and goals of care by using the physician’s expertise, knowledge, and prudent clinical judgment. In the context of the patient–physician relationship: 1. Accept the patient without discrimination (such as on the basis of age, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic characteristics, language, marital and family status, medical condition, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status). This does not abrogate the right of the physician to refuse to accept a patient for legitimate reasons. 2. Having accepted professional responsibility for the patient, continue to provide services until these services are no longer required or wanted, or until another suitable physician has assumed responsibility for the patient, or until after the patient has been given reasonable notice that you intend to terminate the relationship. 3. Act according to your conscience and respect differences of conscience among your colleagues; however, meet your duty of non-abandonment to the patient by always acknowledging and responding to the patient’s medical concerns and requests whatever your moral commitments may be. 4. Inform the patient when your moral commitments may influence your recommendation concerning provision of, or practice of any medical procedure or intervention as it pertains to the patient’s needs or requests. 5. Communicate information accurately and honestly with the patient in a manner that the patient understands and can apply, and confirm the patient’s understanding. 6. Recommend evidence-informed treatment options; recognize that inappropriate use or overuse of treatments or resources can lead to ineffective, and at times harmful, patient care and seek to avoid or mitigate this. 7. Limit treatment of yourself, your immediate family, or anyone with whom you have a similarly close relationship to minor or emergency interventions and only when another physician is not readily available; there should be no fee for such treatment. 8. Provide whatever appropriate assistance you can to any person who needs emergency medical care. 9. Ensure that any research to which you contribute is evaluated both scientifically and ethically and is approved by a research ethics board that adheres to current standards of practice. When involved in research, obtain the informed consent of the research participant and advise prospective participants that they have the right to decline to participate or withdraw from the study at any time, without negatively affecting their ongoing care. 10. Never participate in or condone the practice of torture or any form of cruel, inhuman, or degrading procedure. Physicians and patients Patient-physician relationship 4 11. Empower the patient to make informed decisions regarding their health by communicating with and helping the patient (or, where appropriate, their substitute decision-maker) navigate reasonable therapeutic options to determine the best course of action consistent with their goals of care; communicate with and help the patient assess material risks and benefits before consenting to any treatment or intervention. 12. Respect the decisions of the competent patient to accept or reject any recommended assessment, treatment, or plan of care. 13. Recognize the need to balance the developing competency of minors and the role of families and caregivers in medical decision-making for minors, while respecting a mature minor’s right to consent to treatment and manage their personal health information. 14. Accommodate a patient with cognitive impairments to participate, as much as possible, in decisions that affect them; in such cases, acknowledge and support the positive roles of families and caregivers in medical decision-making and collaborate with them, where authorized by the patient’s substitute decision-maker, in discerning and making decisions about the patient’s goals of care and best interests. 15. Respect the values and intentions of a patient deemed incompetent as they were expressed previously through advance care planning discussions when competent, or via a substitute decision-maker. 16. When the specific intentions of an incompetent patient are unknown and in the absence of a formal mechanism for making treatment decisions, act consistently with the patient’s discernable values and goals of care or, if these are unknown, act in the patient’s best interests. 17. Respect the patient’s reasonable request for a second opinion from a recognized medical expert. Physicians and the practice of medicine Patient privacy and the duty of confidentiality 18. Fulfill your duty of confidentiality to the patient by keeping identifiable patient information confidential; collecting, using, and disclosing only as much health information as necessary to benefit the patient; and sharing information only to benefit the patient and within the patient’s circle of care. Exceptions include situations where the informed consent of the patient has been obtained for disclosure or as provided for by law. 19. Provide the patient or a third party with a copy of their medical record upon the patient’s request, unless there is a compelling reason to believe that information contained in the record will result in substantial harm to the patient or others. 20. Recognize and manage privacy requirements within training and practice environments and quality improvement initiatives, in the context of secondary uses of data for health system management, and when using new technologies in clinical settings. 21. Avoid health care discussions, including in personal, public, or virtual conversations, that could reasonably be seen as revealing confidential or identifying information or as being disrespectful to patients, their families, or caregivers. Medical decision-making is ideally a deliberative process that engages the patient in shared decision-making and is informed by the patient’s experience and values and the physician’s clinical judgment. This deliberation involves discussion with the patient and, with consent, others central to the patient’s care (families, caregivers, other health professionals) to support patient-centred care. In the process of shared decision-making: Decision-making 5 22. Recognize that conflicts of interest may arise as a result of competing roles (such as financial, clinical, research, organizational, administrative, or leadership). 23. Enter into associations, contracts, and agreements that maintain your professional integrity, consistent with evidenceinformed decision-making, and safeguard the interests of the patient or public. 24. Avoid, minimize, or manage and always disclose conflicts of interest that arise, or are perceived to arise, as a result of any professional relationships or transactions in practice, education, and research; avoid using your role as a physician to promote services (except your own) or products to the patient or public for commercial gain outside of your treatment role. 25. Take reasonable steps to ensure that the patient understands the nature and extent of your responsibility to a third party when acting on behalf of a third party. 26. Discuss professional fees for non-insured services with the patient and consider their ability to pay in determining fees. 27. When conducting research, inform potential research participants about anything that may give rise to a conflict of interest, especially the source of funding and any compensation or benefits. 28. Be aware of and promote health and wellness services, and other resources, available to you and colleagues in need. 29. Seek help from colleagues and appropriate medical care from qualified professionals for personal and professional problems that might adversely affect your health and your services to patients. 30. Cultivate training and practice environments that provide physical and psychological safety and encourage help-seeking behaviours. 31. Treat your colleagues with dignity and as persons worthy of respect. Colleagues include all learners, health care partners, and members of the health care team. 32. Engage in respectful communications in all media. 33. Take responsibility for promoting civility, and confronting incivility, within and beyond the profession. Avoid impugning the reputation of colleagues for personal motives; however, report to the appropriate authority any unprofessional conduct by colleagues. 34. Assume responsibility for your personal actions and behaviours and espouse behaviours that contribute to a positive training and practice culture. 35. Promote and enable formal and informal mentorship and leadership opportunities across all levels of training, practice, and health system delivery. 36. Support interdisciplinary team-based practices; foster team collaboration and a shared accountability for patient care. Physicians and self Physicians and colleagues Managing and minimizing conflicts of interest 6 38. Recognize that social determinants of health, the environment, and other fundamental considerations that extend beyond medical practice and health systems are important factors that affect the health of the patient and of populations. 39. Support the profession’s responsibility to act in matters relating to public and population health, health education, environmental determinants of health, legislation affecting public and population health, and judicial testimony. 40. Support the profession’s responsibility to promote equitable access to health care resources and to promote resource stewardship. 41. Provide opinions consistent with the current and widely accepted views of the profession when interpreting scientific knowledge to the public; clearly indicate when you present an opinion that is contrary to the accepted views of the profession. 42. Contribute, where appropriate, to the development of a more cohesive and integrated health system through interprofessional collaboration and, when possible, collaborative models of care. 43. Commit to collaborative and respectful relationships with Indigenous patients and communities through efforts to understand and implement the recommendations relevant to health care made in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 44. Contribute, individually and in collaboration with others, to improving health care services and delivery to address systemic issues that affect the health of the patient and of populations, with particular attention to disadvantaged, vulnerable, or underserved communities. Approved by the CMA Board of Directors Dec 2018 37. Commit to ensuring the quality of medical services offered to patients and society through the establishment and maintenance of professional standards. Physicians and society

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Early childhood development

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11476

Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2014-12-06
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2014-12-06
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Adult health is pre-determined in many ways in early childhood and even by events occurring before birth. The years between conception and the start of school are the time when crucial developments in physical, social, cognitive, emotional and language domains take place. Disruptions during this period can lead to weakened physiological responses, influence brain architecture, and influence how the neuroendocrine, cardiovascular and other systems are developed.1,2 Experiences in early life can even 'get under the skin', changing the ways that certain genes are expressed.3,4 Negative experiences such as poverty or family or parental violence can have significant impacts on this important period of development. Even for those children who don't encounter these types of barriers, there can be problems in the early years. Evidence suggests that adult diseases should be viewed as developmental disorders that begin in early life.5 Just as children are susceptible to negative influences in early life, the period of rapid development means that effective interventions can minimize or eliminate these outcomes. Intervening in the early years has been shown to have the potential to impact developmental trajectories and protect children from risk factors that are present in their daily environments.6 At the government and national level there are four main areas of action: Early childhood learning and care; Support for parents; Poverty reduction; and Data collection for early childhood development. The CMA Recommends that: 1. The federal government, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, implement a national early learning and care program that ensures all children have equal access to high quality child care and early learning. 2. The federal government commit to increasing funding for early childhood development to 1% of GDP to bring Canada in line with other OECD countries. 3. Programs such as early childhood home visiting be made available to all vulnerable families in Canada. 4. Governments support the expansion of community resources for parents which provide parenting programs and family supports. 5. A national strategy to decrease family violence and the maltreatment of children, including appropriate community resources, be developed and implemented in all provinces and territories. 6. The federal government work with provinces and territories to adopt a national strategy to eradicate child poverty in Canada with clear accountability and measurable targets. 7. Provinces and territories implement comprehensive poverty reduction strategies with clear accountability and measurable targets. 8. The federal government work with the provinces and territories to create a robust and unified reporting system on early childhood to ensure that proper monitoring of trends and interventions can take place. 9. The federal government work with the provinces and territories to continue to implement the early development index in all jurisdictions. In addition, work should be supported on similar tools for 18 months and middle childhood. 10. The federal government support the development of a pan-Canadian platform that can share evidence and best practice, and focus research questions around the early years. While most of what is necessary for early childhood development will be done by governments and stakeholders outside of the health care system, there are opportunities for physicians to influence this important social determinant both through medical education, and clinical practice. The CMA Recommends that: 11. Curriculum on early brain, biological development and early learning be incorporated into all Canadian medical schools. 12. Continuing CME on early brain, biological development and early learning be available to all primary-care providers who are responsible for the health care of children. 13. All provinces and territories implement an enhanced 18 month well-baby visit with appropriate compensation and community supports. 14. Physicians and other primary care providers integrate the enhanced 18 month visit into their regular clinical practice. 15. Comprehensive resources be developed for primary-care providers to identify community supports and services to facilitate referral for parents and children. 16. Efforts be made to ensure timely access to resources and programs for children who have identified developmental needs. 17. Physicians serve as advocates on issues related to early childhood development. They should use their knowledge, expertise and influence to speak out on the need and importance of healthy development in the early years. 18. Physicians continue to include literacy promotion in routine clinical encounters with children of all ages. 19. National Medical Associations work with governments and the non-profit sector to explore the development of a clinically based child literacy program for Canada. Background Adult health is pre-determined in many ways in early childhood and even by events occurring before birth. The years between conception and the start of school are the time when crucial developments in physical, social, cognitive, emotional and language domains take place. The early childhood period is the most important development period in life.7 Disruptions during this period can lead to weakened physiological responses, influence brain architecture, and influence how the neuroendocrine, cardiovascular and other systems are developed.8,9 Experiences in early life can even 'get under the skin', changing the ways that certain genes are expressed.10,11 According to research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the adverse childhood event (ACE)a study, child maltreatment, neglect, and exposure to violence can significantly impact childhood development. The study involved a retrospective look at the early childhood experiences of 17,000 US adults and the impact of these events on later life and behaviour issues. An increased number of ACEs was linked to increases in risky behaviour in childhood and adolescence12 and to a number of adult health conditions including alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, obesity, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.13,14 The greater the number of adverse experiences in childhood the greater the likelihood of health problems in adulthood.15 A high level of ACEs was linked to language, cognitive and emotional impairment; factors which impact on school success and adult functioning.16 Finally, the study found a correlation between experiencing ACEs, suicide, and being the victim of or perpetrating intimate partner violence.17 Poverty is a significant barrier to healthy child development. Children who grow up in poor families or disadvantaged communities are especially susceptible to the physiological and biological changes associated with disease risk.18 Poverty is associated with a number of risk factors for healthy development including: unsupportive parenting, inadequate nutrition and education, high levels of traumatic and stressful events19, including higher rates of traumatic injuries20, poorer housing, lack of services, and limited access to physical activity.21 Children from low-income families score lower than children from high-income families on various measures of school readiness, cognitive development and school achievement22,23, and this gap increases over time with children of low-income families being less likely to attend post-secondary education and gain meaningful employment.24 Children who grow up in poverty are more likely to be poor as adults25,26 and to pass this disadvantage on to their own children.27,28 Children living in poverty have more problem behaviours such as drug abuse, early pregnancy, and increased criminal behaviour.29 Finally, economic hardship in childhood has been linked to premature mortality and chronic disease in adulthood.30 Early adverse events and poverty are serious impediments to healthy development, however, it is not just disadvantaged children that need attention. The early years are critical for all children regardless of socio-economic status. Evidence suggests that adult diseases should be viewed as developmental disorders that begin in early life.31 By 2030, 90% of morbidity in high income countries will be related to chronic diseases.32 These diseases are due in large part to risk factors such as smoking, poor nutrition, alcohol and drug abuse, and inadequate physical activity.33 These risk factors can be heavily influenced by the environment in which people live and can be increased by poor early childhood experiences.34,35 Health promotion and disease/injury prevention programs targeted at adults would be more effective if investments were made early in life on the origins of those diseases and conditions.36,37 Areas for Action While there is reason for concern regarding early childhood development, there is positive news as well. Just as children are susceptible to negative influences in early life, the period of rapid development also means that effective interventions can minimize or eliminate these outcomes. Intervening in the early years has been shown to have the potential to impact developmental trajectories and protect children from risk factors that are present in their daily environments.38 Government and National: Early Childhood Learning and Care Research suggests that 90% of a child's brain capacity is developed by age five, before many children have any access to formal education.39 More than one quarter of Canadian children start kindergarten vulnerable in at least one area of development.40 Approximately two thirds of these deficiencies can be considered preventable. Evidence suggests that each 1% of excess vulnerability in school readiness leads to a reduction in GDP of 1% over the course of that child's life.41 Children who aren't ready for kindergarten are half as likely to read by the third grade, a factor that increases the risk of high school drop-out significantly. 42 While it is possible to intervene later to address these learning deficiencies, these interventions are less effective and much more costly.43 High quality early childhood programs including programs to nurture and stimulate children and educate parents are highly correlated with the amelioration of the effects of disadvantage on cognitive, emotional and physical development among children.44,45 A recent analysis of 84 preschool programs in the United States concluded that children participating in effective pre-school programs can acquire about a third of a year of additional learning in math, language and reading skills.46 Since the implementation of the universal childcare program in Quebec, students in that province have moved from below the national average on standardized tests to above the average.47 In addition, effective early childhood learning programs offer a significant return on investment. Research done on US preschool programs found a return on investment of between four and seventeen dollars for every dollar spent on the program. Evidence from the Quebec universal child care program indicates that the program costs are more than covered by the increased tax revenues generated as a result of increased employment among Quebec mothers. For every dollar spent on the Quebec program, $1.05 is received by the provincial government with the federal government receiving $0.44.48 In terms of early childhood learning and care, Canada is lagging far behind - tied for last place among 25 countries in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) early childhood development indicators.b,49 Canada spends the least amount of money on early childhood learning and care of all countries in the OECD (0.25% of GDP)50, or one quarter of the recommended benchmark. Of this money, fully 65% is attributable to Quebec's universal daycare program.51 Canadian families face great pressures in finding affordable and accessible quality early childhood learning and care spots across the country. In Quebec 69% of children 2-4 regularly attend early childhood learning programs; outside of Quebec the number falls to 38.6%. The challenges for low-income families are even more pronounced with almost 65% of poor children 0-5 receiving no out-of home care.52 The federal government and the provinces and territories must work to bring Canada in line with other OECD countries on early childhood learning and care. The CMA Recommends that: 1. The federal government, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, implement a national early learning and care program that ensures all children have equal access to high quality child care and early learning. 2. The federal government commit to increasing funding for early childhood development to 1% of GDP to bring Canada in line with other OECD countries. Support for Parents A supportive nurturing caregiver is associated with better physical and mental health, fewer behavioural problems, higher educational achievement, more productive employment, and less involvement with the justice system and social services.53 Studies have demonstrated that improved parental-child relationships can minimize the effects of strong, prolonged and frequent stress, referred to as toxic stress54,55, and that the effects of poverty can be minimized with appropriate nurturing and supportive parenting.56 Parental support programs can act as a buffer for children at the same time as strengthening the ability of parents to meet their children's developmental needs.57 Caregivers who struggle with problems such as depression or poverty may be unable to provide adequate attention to their children undermining the attachment relationships that develop in early life. The relatively limited attention that is focused on addressing the deficiencies in time and resources of parents across all socio-economic groups can undermine healthy childhood development.58 One approach that has been shown to improve parental functioning and decrease neglect and child abuse is early childhood home visiting programs, sometimes referred to as Nurse Family partnerships. These programs provide nursing visits to vulnerable young mothers from conception until the children are between two and six depending on the program. The home visits provide prenatal support, educate parents about early childhood development, promote positive parenting, connect parents with resources, and monitor for signs of child-abuse and neglect.59 Results from several randomized controlled trials of these programs in the United States have shown that the program reduces abuse and injury, and improves cognitive and social and emotional outcomes in children. A 15 year follow-up study found lower levels of crime and antisocial behaviour in both the mothers and the children that participated in these programs.60 In Canada Nurse Family Partnerships were first piloted in Hamilton, Ontario. They are now undergoing a broader implementation and review in the Province of British Columbia. These programs should continue to be supported and expanded to all families who would benefit from this proven early childhood intervention. Many Canadian provinces have established community resources for parents. Alberta has recently announced plans to establish parent link centres across the province. These will deliver parenting programs, and be home to community resources and programs.61 Similar programs exist in other provinces such as the early years centres in Ontario62, and family resource centres in Manitoba.63 Early Childhood Development Centres in Atlantic Canada are combining child care, kindergarten and family supports into early childhood centres that are aligned with schools.64 While these programs can go a long way in reducing abuse and neglect, there is still a need for an overarching strategy to reduce neglect and child abuse across the country. As the ACE study in the United States clearly demonstrated, exposure to early adverse events such as family violence or neglect have troubling implications for adult health and behaviours.65 Action must be taken to ensure that avoidable adverse events are eliminated. The CMA Recommends that: 3. Programs such as early childhood home visiting be made available to all vulnerable families in Canada. 4. Governments support the expansion of community resources for parents which provide parenting programs and family supports. 5. A national strategy to decrease family violence and the maltreatment of children, including appropriate community resources, be developed and implemented in all provinces and territories. Poverty reduction In 1989 the Canadian government made a commitment to end child poverty by 2000. As of 2011, more Canadian children and their families lived in poverty than when the original declaration was made.66 Canada ranks 15th out of 17 peer countries with more than one in seven children living in poverty (15.1%).67 Canada is one of the only wealthy nations with a child poverty rate that is actually higher than the overall poverty rate.68 Child poverty is a provincial and territorial responsibility as well. As of 2012, only four provinces had child poverty strategies that met the guidelines put forward by the Canadian Paediatric Society.c,69 Poor children grow up in the context of poor families which means that solutions for child poverty must necessarily minimize the poverty of their parents.70 Efforts to increase the income as well as employment opportunities for parents, in particular single parents, must be part of any poverty reduction strategy.71 Programs, such as affordable child care, that allows parents to be active participants in the work force represent one approach72,73 Quebec's program of early childhood care has increased female workforce participation by 70,000 and reduced the child poverty rate by 50%.74 Addressing poverty could minimize problem areas in child development. According to a 2009 report by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, of 27 factors seen as having an impact on child development, 80% of these showed improvement as family income increased.75 Increasing income has the greatest impact on cognitive outcomes for children the earlier in life the reduction in poverty takes place.76 The federal government and the provinces and territories must work to ensure that poverty does not continue to be a barrier to the healthy development of Canadian children. The CMA Recommends that: 6. The federal government work with provinces and territories to adopt a national strategy to eradicate child poverty in Canada with clear accountability and measurable targets. 7. Provinces and territories implement comprehensive poverty reduction strategies with clear accountability and measurable targets. Data Collection for Early Childhood Development The evidence shows the importance of early childhood development for later success and health. In order to properly design effective interventions to mitigate developmental concerns, there is a need for appropriate data on early childhood health indicators and interventions. Given the variation in outcomes of children among different communities and demographic groups, there is a need for individual level data which is linked to the community level. This will allow providers and governments to develop appropriate interventions. Such an approach is being used by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, the Human Early Learning Partnership in British Columbia, and Health Data Nova Scotia. Researchers at these centres are creating a longitudinal data set by linking administrative data from a range of sources.77 Such data sets should be supported in all provinces and territories. Another tool being used to measure the progress of Canadian children is the Early Development Instrument (EDI). This tool is a 104 item checklist completed by teachers for every child around the middle of the first year of schooling. The checklist measures five core areas of early child development that are known to be good predictors of adult health, education and social outcomes. These include: physical health and well-being; language and cognitive development; social competence; emotional maturity; and communication skills and general knowledge.78,79 This tool has been used at least once in most of the provinces and territories with a commitment from most jurisdictions to continue this monitoring.80 While this is a good start, it gives only a snapshot of development. Ideally a monitoring system plots several points of time in development to identify trajectories of children. Ontario has introduced an enhanced well baby visit at 18 months. This clinical intervention could allow for the capture of development data at an earlier time. There is a need for more comprehensive information at the 18-month and middle childhood phases.81 The CMA Recommends that: 8. The federal government work with the provinces and territories to create a robust and unified reporting system on early childhood to ensure that proper monitoring of trends and interventions can take place. 9. The federal government work with the provinces and territories to continue to implement the early development index in all jurisdictions. In addition, work should be supported on similar tools for 18 months and middle childhood. 10. The federal government support the development of a pan-Canadian platform that can share evidence and best practice, and focus research questions around the early years. Medical Education: Given the importance of early childhood experiences on adult health there is a need for a greater understanding of the biological basis of adult diseases. The medical community needs to focus more attention on the roots of adult diseases and disabilities and focus prevention efforts on disrupting or minimizing these early links to later poor health outcomes.82 The science of early brain development and biology is rapidly evolving. There is a need to ensure that future and current physicians are up to date on this information and its implications for clinical practice.83 The Association of Faculties of Medicine and the Norlien foundation have partnered to provide funding and support for a series of e-learning tools on early brain and biological development.84 Continuing medical education does exist for some components of early childhood development and more work is underway. The Ontario College of Family Physicians has developed a CME that explores early childhood development for practitioners.85 These initiatives must be supported and expanded to all physicians who provide primary care to children and their families. The CMA Recommends that: 11. Curriculum on early brain, biological development and early learning be incorporated into all Canadian medical schools. 12. Continuing CME on early brain, biological development and early learning be available to all primary-care providers who are responsible for the health care of children. Clinical Practice: While many of the threats to early childhood development lie outside of the hospital or medical clinic, there are a number of ways that physicians can help to address this important determinant of health within their practices. Primary care practitioners are uniquely qualified to address this fundamental population health issue,86 and can provide one important component in a multi-sectoral approach to healthy early childhood development.87 Screening and support for parents The health care system is the primary contact for many child-bearing mothers, and for many families, health-care providers are the only professionals with whom they have regular contact during the early years.88,89 According to data from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, 97% of Ontario children aged zero to two are seen by a family physician.90 Within a patient-centred medical home, health-care providers can give support and information to parents about issues such as parenting, safety, and nutrition, and can link them to early childhood resourcesd, and other supports such as housing and food security programs. 91,92 Primary-care providers can help patients connect with public health departments who have many healthy baby and healthy child programs.93 Primary-care providers can ensure that screening takes place to identify risk factors to appropriate development.94 This screening should take place as early as the prenatal stage and continue throughout childhood. Screening should include regular assessments of physical milestones such as height, weight and vision and hearing etc. In addition, providers can identify risk factors such as maternal depression, substance abuse, and potential neglect or abuse.95 Given the negative consequences of early violence and neglect on childhood development96, this is a key role for primary-care providers. Screening for social issues such as poverty, poor housing and food insecurity should also be completed.97 A significant time for screening occurs at 18 months. This is the time for the last set of immunizations and in many cases the last time a child will have a regularly scheduled physician visit before the start of school.98 The 18 month well baby visit provides an opportunity to screen for not only medical concerns but child development as well. The enhanced 18 month well baby visite developed in Ontario combines parental observations and clinical judgment to screen for any risks a child might have.99 In Ontario, parental observation is captured through the Nipissing District Developmental Screen (NDDS). The parents complete this standardized tool and report the results to their physicians or other primary-care providers. The NDDS checklist is not meant to be a diagnostic tool but instead helps to highlight any potential areas of concern while also providing information to parents about childhood development. The 'activities for your child' section which accompanies the tool can also help reinforce the importance of development.100 As part of the visit primary-care providers fill out a standardized tool known as the Rourke Baby Record. This tool is an evidence based guide which helps professionals deliver the enhanced visit. This combined with the parental report through the NDDS, allows for a complete picture of the physical as well as the development health of the child at 18 months. Primary-care providers can use the results to discuss parenting and development and link children to specialized services, as necessary, and other community supports and resources. In Ontario early child development and parenting resource system pathways have been developed in many communities to help ensure that primary care providers can be aware of the resources and supports available for their patients.101 As was already noted, almost two thirds of vulnerabilities in readiness for school can be prevented.102 Appropriate identification through screening is a first step in correcting these issues. While the expansion of this approach is currently being reviewed in Nova Scotia, it should be implemented in all provinces and territories with appropriate compensation mechanisms and community based supports. Additionally, consideration should be made to developing screening tools for physicians outside of primary care, ie. emergency departments, who see children who might not have regular primary care physicians. The CMA Recommends that: 13. All provinces and territories implement an enhanced 18 month well-baby visit with appropriate compensation and community supports. 14. Physicians and other primary care providers integrate the enhanced 18 month visit into their regular clinical practice. 15. Comprehensive resources be developed for primary-care providers to identify community supports and services to facilitate referral for parents and children. 16. Efforts be made to ensure timely access to resources and programs for children who have identified developmental needs. 17. Physicians serve as advocates on issues related to early childhood development. They should use their knowledge, expertise and influence to speak out on the need and importance of healthy development in the early years. Literacy By 18 months disparities in language acquisition begin to develop.103 According to US research, by age four, children of families on welfare will hear 30 million less words than children from families with professional parents.104 This can lead to ongoing disparities in childhood learning as evidence suggests that exposure to reading and language from parents is fundamental for success in reading by children.105 Physicians and other primary-care providers can play a role in helping to reduce these disparities. They can encourage reading, speaking, singing and telling stories as part of a daily routine.f Studies have demonstrated that when physicians discuss literacy with parents and provide them with appropriate resources, such as developmentally appropriate children's books, increases in reading frequency and preschool language scores have been found.106 One program which has integrated reading and literacy into clinical practice is the 'Reach out and Read' program in the United States. This program partners with physicians, paediatricians, and nurse practitioners to provide new developmentally appropriate books to children ages 6 months through 5 years, as well as guidance for parents about the importance of reading.107,108 The success of this program has been significant with parents in the program being four to ten times more likely to read frequently with their children, and children scoring much higher on receptive and expressive language scores on standardized tests.109 Given the success of this program for American children, a similar program should be explored in the Canadian context. The CMA Recommends that: 18. Physicians continue to include literacy promotion in routine clinical encounters with children of all ages. 19. National Medical Associations work with governments and the non-profit sector to explore the development of a clinically based child literacy program for Canada. Conclusion The early years represent the most important time of development. The first five years can 'get under the skin' and influence outcomes throughout the life course. Negative experiences such as poverty, violence, poor nutrition, and inadequate parenting can determine behaviours as well as adult health outcomes. Effective early interventions can help to minimize or capitalize on these experiences. Government actions and supports to reduce poverty, child abuse, violence and to enable parents to care for their children are necessary. In addition, appropriate high quality early childhood learning and care programs are required for all Canadians regardless of socio-economic status. Finally, health care providers can play a role in identifying children at risk, supporting their parents to encourage healthy childhood development, and advocating for communities that ensure all Canadian children have the opportunity to grow up happy and healthy. References a The adverse childhood events are: emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect, physical neglect, mother treated violently, household substance abuse, household mental illness, parental separation or divorce, incarcerated household member. http://www.cdc.gov/ace/prevalence.htm#ACED b The indicators used for the comparison include: Parental leave of one year with 50% of salary; a national plan with priority for disadvantaged children; subsidized and regulated child care services for 25% of children under 3; subsidized and accredited early education services for 80% of 4 year-olds; 80% of all child care staff trained; 50% of staff in accredited early education services tertiary educated with relevant qualification (this is the only indicator that Canada met); minimum staff-to-children ratio of 1:15 in pre-school education; 1.0% of GDP spent on early childhood services; child poverty rate less than 10%; near-universal outreach of essential child health services. UNICEF (2008) The child care transition: A league table of early childhood education and care in economically advanced countries. Available at: http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc8_eng.pdf c To meet the CPS guidelines a province/territory requires anti-poverty legislation promoting long-term action and government accountability for at least three years, and has a poverty reduction strategy with specific targets. d For a list of some of the resources available for early childhood development across the country please see the Canadian Paediatric Society Resource Page: http://www.cps.ca/en/first-debut/map/community-resources e For more detailed information on the enhanced 18 month well baby visit please see the Canadian Paediatric Society Position statement- Williams R & J Clinton. Getting it right at 18 months: In support of an enhanced well-baby visit. Canadian Paediatric Society. Ottawa, ON; 2011. Available: http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/enhanced-well-baby-visit (Accessed 2014 Jan 24). For resources available to Ontario primary-care providers please visit: http://machealth.ca/programs/18-month/default.aspx f For information and resources on early literacy please see the Canadian Paediatric Society at: http://www.cps.ca/issues-questions/literacy 1 Williams R et.al. The promise of the early years: How long should children wait? Paediatr Child Health Vol 17 No 10 December 2012. Available: http://www.cps.ca/issues/2012-early-years-commentary.pdf (accessed 2014 Feb 21) 2 Shonkoff JP et al. The Foundations of Lifelong Health Are Built in Early Childhood. Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University. Cambridge (MA); 2010. Available: http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/reports_and_working_papers/foundations-of-lifelong-health/ (accessed 2013 Dec 13). 3 Norrie McCain H.M, Mustard JF, McCuaig, K. Early Years Study 3: Making decisions Taking Action. 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Available: http://www.campaign2000.ca/reportCards/national/2013C2000NATIONALREPORTCARDNOV26.pdf (accessed 2014 Mar 5). 52 Norrie McCain H.M, Mustard JF, McCuaig, K. Early Years Study 3: Making decisions Taking Action. Margaret and Wallace McCain Foundation. Toronto(ON); 2011. Available: http://earlyyearsstudy.ca/media/uploads/report-pdfs-en/i_115_eys3_en_2nd_072412.pdf (accessed 2014 Feb 11). 53 Shonkoff JP et.al. The Foundations of Lifelong Health Are Built in Early Childhood. Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University. Cambridge (MA); 2010. Available: http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/reports_and_working_papers/foundations-of-lifelong-health/ (accessed 2013 Dec 13). 54 Arkin E, Braveman P, Egerter S & Williams D. Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities: Recommendations From the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Princeton (NJ); 2014. Available: http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/reports/2014/rwjf409002 (accessed 2014 Feb 6). 55 Shonkoff JP & Garner AS. The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress. Pediatrics. December 26, 2011. Available: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/12/21/peds.2011-2663.full.pdf+html (accessed 2013 Oct 28). 56 Luby J et al. The Effects of Poverty on Childhood Brain Development: The Mediating Effect of Caregiving and Stressful Life Events. JAMA Pediatr. Published online October 28, 2013. 57 Arkin E, Braveman P, Egerter S & Williams D. Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities: Recommendations From the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Princeton (NJ); 2014. Available: http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/reports/2014/rwjf409002 (accessed 2014 Feb 6). 58 Shonkoff JP et al. The Foundations of Lifelong Health Are Built in Early Childhood. Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University. Cambridge (MA); 2010. Available: http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/reports_and_working_papers/foundations-of-lifelong-health/ (accessed 2013 Dec 13). 59 Knoke D. Early childhood home visiting programs. Centres of Excellence for Children's Well-Being. Toronto(ON); 2009. Available: http://cwrp.ca/sites/default/files/publications/en/HomeVisiting73E.pdf (accessed 2014 Mar 7). 60 Mercy JA, Saul J. Creating a Healthier Future Through Early Interventions for Children. JAMA June 3, 2009 Vol 301, No.21. 61 Government of Alberta. Alberta improves supports for families. Edmonton(AB); 2014. Available: http://alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=356434F454042-9B0A-23FD-4AD0402F87D70805 (accessed 2014 Jan 7). 62 Ontario Ministry of Education. Ontario Early Years Centres: Frequently asked questions. Toronto (ON):N.D. Available: http://www.oeyc.edu.gov.on.ca/questions/index.aspx (accessed 2015 Jan 30). 63 Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet. Starting Early, Starting Strong: Manitoba's Early Childhood Development Framework. Government of Manitoba, Winnipeg (MB); 2013. Available: http://www.gov.mb.ca/cyo/pdfs/sess_ECD_framework.pdf (accessed 2014 Jan 10). 64 Norrie McCain H.M, Mustard JF, McCuaig, K. Early Years Study 3: Making decisions Taking Action. Margaret and Wallace McCain Foundation. Toronto(ON); 2011. Available: http://earlyyearsstudy.ca/media/uploads/report-pdfs-en/i_115_eys3_en_2nd_072412.pdf (accessed 2014 Feb 11). 65 Middlebrooks JS, Audage NC. The Effects of Childhood Stress on Health Across the Lifespan. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta (GA); 2008. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/pub-res/pdf/childhood_stress.pdf (accessed 2014 Feb 24). 66 Campaign 2000. Canada's Real Economic Action Plan Begins with Poverty Eradication: 2013 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada. Family Service Toronto. Toronto (ON); 2013. Available: http://www.campaign2000.ca/reportCards/national/2013C2000NATIONALREPORTCARDNOV26.pdf (accessed 2014 Mar 5). 67 Conference Board of Canada. Child Poverty. Ottawa (ON); 2013. Available: http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/society/child-poverty.aspx (accessed 2013 Jun 20). 68 Canadian Paediatric Society. Are We Doing Enough? A status report on Canadian public policy and child and youth health. 2012 edition. Ottawa (ON); 2012. Available: http://www.cps.ca/advocacy/StatusReport2012.pdf (accessed 2014 Feb 14). 69 Ibid. 70 APA Task Force on Childhood Poverty. A Strategic Road-Map: Committed to Bringing the Voice of Pediatricians to the Most Important Problem Facing Children in the US Today. The American Academy of Pediatrics. Elk Grove Village (IL); 2013. Available: http://www.academicpeds.org/public_policy/pdf/APA_Task_Force_Strategic_Road_Mapver3.pdf (accessed 2013 Dec 9). 71 Campaign 2000. Canada's Real Economic Action Plan Begins with Poverty Eradication: 2013 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada. Family Service Toronto. Toronto (ON); 2013. Available: http://www.campaign2000.ca/reportCards/national/2013C2000NATIONALREPORTCARDNOV26.pdf (accessed 2014 Mar 5). 72 HM Treasury. Ending child poverty: mapping the route to 2020. London(UK); 2010. Available: http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/images/ecp/budget2010_childpoverty.pdf (accessed 2014 Jan 17). 73 Fauth B, Renton Z & Solomon E. Tackling child poverty and promoting children's well-being: lessons from abroad. National Children's Bureau. London (UK); 2013. Available: http://www.ncb.org.uk/media/892335/tackling_child_poverty_1302013_final.pdf (accessed 2014 Jan 10). 74 Norrie McCain H.M, Mustard JF, McCuaig, K. Early Years Study 3: Making decisions Taking Action. Margaret and Wallace McCain Foundation. Toronto(ON); 2011. Available: http://earlyyearsstudy.ca/media/uploads/report-pdfs-en/i_115_eys3_en_2nd_072412.pdf (accessed 2014 Feb 11). 75 Little L. Early Childhood Education and Care: Issues and Initiatives. Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Ottawa(ON); 2012. 76 Cooper K & Stewart K. Does Money Affect Children's Outcomes? Joseph Rowntree Foundation. London(UK); 2013. Available: http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/money-children-outcomes-full.pdf (accessed 2014 Feb 20). 77 Hertzman C, Clinton J, Lynk A. Measuring in support of early childhood development. Canadian Paediatric Society, Ottawa (ON); 2011. Available: http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/early-childhood-development (accessed 2014 Feb 25). 78 Human Early Learning Partnership. Early Development Instrument. N.D. Available: http://earlylearning.ubc.ca/edi/ (accessed 2014 Oct 8). 79 Adamson P. Child well-being in rich countries: A comparative overview: Innocenti Report Card 11. UNICEF, Florrence, Italy; 2013. Available: http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc11_eng.pdf (accessed 2014 Jan 10). 80 Norrie McCain H.M, Mustard JF, McCuaig, K. Early Years Study 3: Making decisions Taking Action. Margaret and Wallace McCain Foundation. Toronto(ON); 2011. Available: http://firstwords.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Early-Years-Study-3.pdf (accessed 2014 Feb 11). 81 Hertzman C, Clinton J, Lynk A. Measuring in support of early childhood development. Canadian Paediatric Society, Ottawa (ON); 2011. Available: http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/early-childhood-development (accessed 2014 Feb 25). 82 Shonkoff JP & Garner AS. The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress. Pediatrics. December 26, 2011. Available: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/12/21/peds.2011-2663.full.pdf+html (accessed 2013 Oct 28). 83 Garner AS et al. Early Childhood Adversity, Toxic Stress, and the Role of the Pediatrician: Translating Developmental Science Into Lifelong Health. Pediatrics 2012;129;e224. Available: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/12/21/peds.2011-2662.full.pdf+html (accessed 2014 Feb 11). 84 Little L. Early Childhood Education and Care: Issues and Initiatives. Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Ottawa(ON); 2012. 85 Comley L, Mousmanis P. Improving the Odds: Healthy Child Development: Toolkit: Interdisciplinary MAINPRO CME for Family Physicians and other Primary Healthcare Providers, 6th Edition. Toronto (ON);2010. Available: http://ocfp.on.ca/docs/research-projects/improving-the-odds-healthy-child-development-manual-2010-6th-edition.pdf (accessed 2013 Dec 2). 86 Williams RC, Clinton J, Price DJ, Novak NE. Ontario's Enhanced 18-Month Well-Baby Visit: program overview, implications for physicians. OMR February 2010. Available: http://omr.dgtlpub.com/2010/2010-02-28/home.php (accessed 2012 Feb 20). 87 Shonkoff JP et al. The Foundations of Lifelong Health Are Built in Early Childhood. Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University. Cambridge (MA); 2010. Available: http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/reports_and_working_papers/foundations-of-lifelong-health/ (accessed 2013 Dec 13). 88 Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health: Executive Summary. Geneva (CH) World Health Organization; 2008. Available: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2008/WHO_IER_CSDH_08.1_eng.pdf (accessed 2011 Jan 7). 89 Williams RC, Clinton J, Price DJ, Novak NE. Ontario's Enhanced 18-Month Well-Baby Visit: program overview, implications for physicians. OMR February 2010. Available: http://omr.dgtlpub.com/2010/2010-02-28/home.php (accessed 2012 Feb 20). 90 The Minister of Children and Youth announces that every child will receive and enhanced 18-month visit: Family Physicians Play Key Roles in Healthy Child Development. Toronto(ON). Available: http://ocfp.on.ca/docs/cme/enhanced-18-month-well-baby-visit-key-messages-for-family-physicians.pdf?sfvrsn=1 (accessed 2012 Feb 20). 91 Comley L, Mousmanis P. Improving the Odds: Healthy Child Development: Toolkit: Interdisciplinary MAINPRO CME for Family Physicians and other Primary Healthcare Providers, 6th Edition. Toronto (ON);2010. Available: http://ocfp.on.ca/docs/research-projects/improving-the-odds-healthy-child-development-manual-2010-6th-edition.pdf (accessed 2013 Dec 2). 92 Garg A, Jack B, Zuckerman B. Addressing the Social Determinants of Health Within the Patient-Centred Medical Home. JAMA. May 15, 2013 Vol. 309 No.19. 93 Comley L, Mousmanis P. Improving the Odds: Healthy Child Development: Toolkit: Interdisciplinary MAINPRO CME for Family Physicians and other Primary Healthcare Providers, 6th Edition. Toronto (ON);2010. Available: http://ocfp.on.ca/docs/research-projects/improving-the-odds-healthy-child-development-manual-2010-6th-edition.pdf (accessed 2013 Dec 2). 94 Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health: Executive Summary. Geneva (CH) World Health Organization; 2008. Available: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2008/WHO_IER_CSDH_08.1_eng.pdf (accessed 2011 Jan 7). 95 Williams R et al. The promise of the early years: How long should children wait? Paediatr Child Health Vol 17 No 10 December 2012. Available: http://www.cps.ca/issues/2012-early-years-commentary.pdf (accessed 2014 Feb 21). 96 Middlebrooks JS, Audage NC. The Effects of Childhood Stress on Health Across the Lifespan. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta (GA); 2008. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/pub-res/pdf/childhood_stress.pdf (accessed 2014 Feb 24). 97 Garg A, Jack B, Zuckerman B. Addressing the Social Determinants of Health Within the Patient-Centred Medical Home. JAMA. May 15, 2013 Vol. 309 No.19. 98 Williams R & Clinton J. Getting it right at 18 months: In support of an enhanced well-baby visit. Canadian Paediatric Society. Ottawa(ON); 2011. Available: http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/enhanced-well-baby-visit (accessed 2012 Feb 20). 99 Canadian Paediatric Society. Are We Doing Enough? A status report on Canadian public policy and child and youth health. 2012 edition. Ottawa (ON); 2012. Available: http://www.cps.ca/advocacy/StatusReport2012.pdf (accessed 2014 Feb 14). 100 Williams RC, Clinton J, Price DJ, Novak NE. Ontario's Enhanced 18-Month Well-Baby Visit: program overview, implications for physicians. OMR February 2010. Available: http://omr.dgtlpub.com/2010/2010-02-28/home.php (accessed 2012 Feb 20). 101 Williams R & Clinton J. Getting it right at 18 months: In support of an enhanced well-baby visit. Canadian Paediatric Society. Ottawa(ON); 2011. Available: http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/enhanced-well-baby-visit (accessed 2012 Feb 20). 102 Williams R & Clinton J. Getting it right at 18 months: In support of an enhanced well-baby visit. Canadian Paediatric Society. Ottawa(ON); 2011. Available: http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/enhanced-well-baby-visit (accessed 2012 Feb 20). 103 Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University. Five Numbers to Remember About Early Childhood Development. Cambridge(MA); N.D. Available: http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/multimedia/interactive_features/five-numbers/ (accessed 2014 Feb 10). 104 Denburg A, Daneman D. The Link between Social Inequality and Child Health Outcomes. Healthcare Quarterly Vol. 14 Oct 2010. 105 Shaw A. Read, speak, sing: Promoting literacy in the physician's office. Canadian Paediatric Society, Ottawa (ON); 2006. Available: http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/read-speak-sing-promoting-literacy (accessed 2014 Feb 10). 106 Ibid. 107 Reach out and Read. Reach Out And Read: The Evidence. Boston (MA); 2013. Available: https://www.reachoutandread.org/FileRepository/Research_Summary.pdf (accessed 2014 Mar 5). 108 Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health: Executive Summary. Geneva (CH) World Health Organization; 2008. Available: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2008/WHO_IER_CSDH_08.1_eng.pdf (accessed 2011 Jan 7). 109 Shaw A. Read, speak, sing: Promoting literacy in the physician's office. Canadian Paediatric Society, Ottawa (ON); 2006. Available: http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/read-speak-sing-promoting-literacy (accessed 2014 Feb 10).

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Guiding principles for physicians recommending mobile health applications to patients

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11521

Date
2015-05-30
Topics
Health information and e-health
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2015-05-30
Topics
Health information and e-health
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Text
GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR PHYSICIANS RECOMMENDING MOBILE HEALTH APPLICATIONS TO PATIENTS This document is designed to provide basic information for physicians about how to assess a mobile health application for recommendation to a patient in the management of that patient's health, health care, and health care information. These guiding principles build on the Canadian Medical Association's (CMA) Physician Guidelines for Online Communication with Patients.1 Background * Mobile health applications, distinct from regulated medical devices, may be defined as an application on a mobile device that is intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. The functions of these applications may include: o The ability to store and track information about an individual or group's health or the social determinants thereof; o Periodic educational information, reminders, or motivational guidance; o GPS location information to direct or alert patients; o Standardized checklists or questionnaires.2 * Mobile health applications can enhance health outcomes while mitigating health care costs because of their potential to improve a patient's access to information and care providers.3 * Mobile health applications are most commonly used on a smart phone and/or tablet. Some may also interface with medical devices. * The use of mobile health applications reflects an emerging trend towards personalized medicine and patient involvement in the management of their health information. By 2016, 142 million health apps will have been downloaded.4 According to some industry estimates, by 2018, 50 percent of the more than 3.4 billion smartphone and tablet users worldwide will have downloaded at least one mobile health application.5 * While mobile health application downloads are increasing, there is little information about usage and adherence by patients. It is believed that many patients cease to use a mobile health application soon after downloading it. * Distributers of mobile health applications do not currently assess content provided by mobile health applications for accuracy, comprehensiveness, reliability, timeliness, or conformity to clinical practice guidelines.6 However, mobile applications may be subjected to certain standards to ensure critical technical requirements such as accessibility, reachability, adaptability, operational reliability, and universality. * Increasingly there are independent websites providing reviews of medical apps and checklists for health care professionals. However, the quality criteria used by these sites, potential conflicts of interest, and the scope and number of mobile apps assessed are not always declared by these groups. To date, randomized controlled trials are not usually employed to assess the effectiveness of mobile health applications. Some believe that the rigorousness of this type of assessment may impede the timeliness of a mobile health application's availability.7 * Some examples of the uses of mobile health applications include tracking fitness activities to supplement a healthy lifestyle; supported self-management of health and health information; post-procedure follow up; viewing of test results; and the virtualization of interaction between patients and providers, such as remote patient monitoring for chronic disease management. Some mobile health applications may be linked to a patient profile or patient portal associated with a professional or recognized association or medical society or health care organization. * Some mobile health applications may be an extension of an electronic medical records (EMR) platform. Guiding principles * The objective of recommending a mobile health application to a patient must be to enhance the safety and/or effectiveness of patient care or otherwise for the purpose of health promotion. * A mobile health application is one approach in health service delivery. Mobile health applications should complement, rather than replace, the relationship between a physician and patient. * No one mobile health application is appropriate for every patient. Physicians may wish to understand a patient's abilities, comfort level, access to technology, and the context of the application of care before recommending a mobile health application. * Should a physician recommend a mobile health application to a patient, it is the responsibility of the physician to do so in a way that adheres to legislation and regulation (if existing) and/or professional obligations. * If the mobile health application will be used to monitor the patient's condition in an ongoing manner, the physician may wish to discuss with the patient what they should watch for and the steps they should take in response to information provided. * Physicians are encouraged to share information about applications they have found effective with colleagues. * Physicians who require additional information about the competencies associated with eHealth and the use of health information technologies may wish to consult The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada's (RCPSC) framework of medical competencies, CanMEDS.8 * Physicians may wish to enter into and document a consent discussion with their patient, which can include the electronic management of health information or information printed out from electronic management platforms like mobile health applications. This agreement may include a one-time conveyance of information and recommendations to cover the elements common to many mobile health applications, such as the general risk to privacy associated with storing health information on a mobile device. Characteristics of a safe and effective mobile health application A mobile health application does not need to have all of the following characteristics to be safe and effective. However, the more of the following characteristics a mobile health application has, the likelier it will be appropriate for recommendation to a patient: 1. Endorsement by a professional or recognized association or medical society or health care organization As recommended by the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA), it is best to select mobile health applications that have been created or endorsed by a professional or recognized association or medical society.9 Some health care organizations, such as hospitals, may also develop or endorse applications for use in their clinical environments. There may also be mobile health applications associated with an EMR platform used by an organization or practice. Finally, some mobile health applications may have been subject to a peer review process distinct from endorsement by an association or organization. 2. Usability There are a number of usability factors than can complicate the use of mobile applications, including interface and design deficiencies, technological restrictions, and device and infrastructure malfunction. Many developers will release periodic updates and software patches to enhance the stability and usability of their applications. Therefore, it would be prudent for the physician recommending the mobile health application to also recommend to the patient that they determine if the application has been updated within the last year. Physicians considering recommending a mobile health application to a patient may wish to ask about the patient's level of comfort with mobile health technologies, their degree of computer literacy, whether or not the patient owns a mobile device capable of running the application, and whether or not the patient is able to bear potential one-time or ongoing costs associated with use of the application. Physicians may consider testing the application themselves beforehand to understand whether its functionality and interface make it easy to use. 3. Reliability of information Physicians considering recommending a mobile health application may wish to understand how the patient intends to use the information, and/or review the information with the patient to understand whether it is current and appropriate. Information presented by the mobile health application should be appropriately referenced and time-stamped with the last update by the application developer. 4. Privacy and security There are inherent security risks when a patient uses mobile health applications or enters sensitive information into their mobile device. Mobile devices can be stolen, and the terms of use for mobile health applications may include provisions for the sharing of information with the application developer and other third-parties, identified or un-identified, for commercial purposes. In 2014, the Officer of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta assessed approximately 1200 mobile applications and found nearly one-third of them required access to personal information beyond what should be required relative to their functionality and purpose, and that basic privacy information was not always made available.10 Physicians entering into and documenting a consent discussion with their patients may wish to include the electronic management of health information in the scope of these discussions, and make a notation of the discussion in the patient's health record. If physicians have not entered into and documented a general consent discussion, they may wish to indicate to the patient that there are security risks associated with mobile health applications, and recommend that the patient avail themselves of existing security features on their device. Physicians may wish to recommend to the patient that they determine whether a privacy policy has been made available which discloses how data is collected by the application and used by the developer, or a privacy impact assessment, which demonstrates the risks associated with the use of the application. Some mobile health applications may feature additional levels of authentication for use, such as an additional password or encryption protocols. If all other factors between applications are equal, physicians may wish to recommend that patients use mobile health applications adhering to this higher standard of security. 5. Avoids conflict-of-interest Physicians may wish to recommend that patients learn more about the company or organization responsible for the development of the application and their mandate. There is a risk of secondary gains by mobile health application developers and providers where information about patients and/or usage is gathered and sold to third parties. A standardized conflict of interest statement may be made available through the mobile health application or on the developer's website. If so, physicians may wish to refer the patient to this resource. Physicians who develop mobile applications for commercial gain or have a stake in those who develop applications for commercial gain may risk a complaint being made to the College on the basis that the physician engaged in unprofessional conduct if they recommend mobile health applications to their patients in the course of patient care. 6. Does not contribute to fragmentation of health information Some mobile health applications may link directly to an EMR, patient portal, or government data repository. These data resources may be standardized, linked, and cross-referenced. However, health information entered into an application may also be stored on a mobile device and/or the patient's home computer, or developers of mobile health applications may store information collected by their application separately. While there may be short-term benefits to using a particular mobile health application, the range of applications and developers may contribute to the overall fragmentation of health information. If all other factors between applications are considered equal, physicians may wish to recommend mobile health applications which contribute to robust existing data repositories, especially an existing EMR. 7. Demonstrates its impact on patient health outcomes While not all mobile health applications will have an appropriate scale of use and not all developers will have the capacity to collect and analyze data, physicians may wish to recommend mobile health applications that have undergone validation testing to demonstrate impact of use on patient health outcomes. If mobile health applications are claiming a direct therapeutic impact on patient populations, physicians may wish to recommend that their patients seek out or request resources to validate this claim. References 1 Canadian Medical Association. Physician guidelines for online communication with patients. Ottawa: The Association; 2005. Available: http://policybase.cma.ca/dbtw-wpd/PolicyPDF/PD05-03.pdf?_ga=1.32127742.1313872127.1393248073 2 US Food and Drug Administration, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. Mobile medical applications: guidance for industry and Food and Drug Administration staff. Rockville (MD): The Administration; 2015. Available: www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/.../UCM263366.pdf 3 Canada Health Infoway. Mobile health computing between clinicians and patients. White paper. Toronto: The Infoway; 2014 Apr. Available: www.infoway-inforoute.ca/index.php/resources/video-gallery/doc_download/2081-mobile-health-computing-between-clinicians-and-patients-white-paper-full-report 4 iHealthBeat. 44M mobile health apps will be downloaded in 2012, report predicts. Available: www.ihealthbeat.org/articles/2011/12/1/44m-mobile-health-apps-will-be-downloaded-in-2012-report-predicts 5 Jahns R-G. 500m people will be using healthcare mobile applications in 2015. Research2guidance. Available: www.research2guidance.com/500m-people-will -be-using-healthcare-mobile-applications-in-2015/ 6 Lyver, M. Standards: a call to action. Future Practice. 2013 Nov. Available: www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/about-us/FP-November2013-e.pdf 7 Rich P. Medical apps: current status. Future Practice 2013 Nov. Available: www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/about-us/FP-November2013-e.pdf 8 Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The CanMEDS 2015 eHealth Expert Working Group report. Ottawa: The College; 2014. Available: www.royalcollege.ca/portal/page/portal/rc/common/documents/canmeds/framework/ehealth_ewg_report_e.pdf 9 Canadian Medical Protective Association. Managing information to delivery safer care. Ottawa: The Association; 2013. Available: https://oplfrpd5.cmpa-acpm.ca/en/duties-and-responsibilities/-/asset_publisher/bFaUiyQG069N/content/managing-information-to-deliver-safer-care 10 Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta. Global privacy sweep rasies concerns about mobile apps [news release]. Available: www.oipc.ab.ca/downloads/documentloader.ashx?id=3482

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Healthy behaviours - promoting physical activity and healthy eating

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11523

Date
2015-05-30
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2015-05-30
Replaces
Promoting Physical Activity and Healthy Weights
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) supports the promotion of healthy lifestyles in order to improve individual health and well-being and the overall health status of the population. Healthy lifestyles refer to patterns of individual practices and personal behavioural choices that are associated with optimal health. Two of the most important behaviours to create or maintain optimum health are healthy eating and physical activity. For many Canadians, their diet and physical activity levels can have a negative rather than positive impact on their overall health. There is a particular concern for children and youth who are growing up in increasingly obesogenic environments that reinforce practices that work against a healthy lifestyle.1 Childhood obesity research tells us that overweight and obese children are more likely to stay the same into adulthood.2 To reverse this trend, determined action is required for children and youth to learn and acquire healthy behaviours that they will maintain throughout their life. Healthy lifestyles are central to successful aging and improving the likelihood of recovery after poor health.3 This policy paper discusses the importance of physical activity and healthy eating, and the role that individuals and families, schools, workplaces, communities, the food industry and all levels of governments can play in promoting healthy lifestyles. We know that collaborative action is required to make it easier for Canadians to incorporate healthy eating and physical activity into their daily lives - to make the healthy choice the easy choice. What are the health impacts of unhealthy diets and physical inactivity Diet is the leading risk factor for death, disability and life-years lost; being estimated to cause over 65,000 deaths and 864,000 life years lost in Canada in 2010.4 Unhealthy diet has been consistently linked with cardiovascular diseases (heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia) and some cancers,5 which constitutes the majority of the disease burden in Canada. An estimated 80% of hypertension, which affects over 7 million Canadians, is directly or indirectly attributed to unhealthy diet.6 An estimated 60% of Canadian adults and close to one-third of children are overweight or obese, largely caused by unhealthy diets.7 Overweight and obesity (and the lifestyle choices associated with them) are contributors to more than 18 chronic conditions.8 This includes diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and liver disease, as well as breast, colon and prostate cancer. Obesity is a public health issue not unique to Canada as the rates are increasing worldwide. Obesity is generally attributed to the fact that, as a society, we are increasing our calorie intake while at the same time burning less energy in physical activity. While it is difficult to determine how many deaths are directly attributable to obesity, we know that obesity often co-exists with other risk factors such as the lack of physical activity. Exercise is one of the top modifiable risk factor for chronic disease.9 Regular physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, bone and joint diseases, and depression.10 The risk for many of these conditions is reduced by 20 - 40% in adults with the highest levels of physical activity compared to those with the lowest levels of physical activity. Recent research has shown that a sedentary lifestyle is associated with higher risk for chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cancer independent of physical activity levels.11 According to the most recent Canadian Health Measures Study physical activity levels for children and youth are low with 6 out of 10 waking hours devoted to sedentary pursuits. Obesity is rising and physical fitness is declining.12 Canadians who do not achieve adequate levels of physical activity or eat unhealthy foods are vulnerable to preventable chronic diseases, premature death, and contribute to high health care costs. For instance, in 1999, $2.1 billion or 2.5% of the total direct health care costs were attributable to physical inactivity.13 To understand why the rates of obesity and overweight are rising, it may be helpful to look at what we already know about healthy eating and physical activity. What we know about healthy eating While modern science has allowed us to expand our knowledge of the impact of nutrients and food on human health we continue to be beset with illness and disease caused by the foods we consume. Having the right amount and type of food recommended in Canada's Food Guide is a first step towards healthy eating. But Canadians self-reported dietary intakes do not meet national dietary recommendations despite high reliance on public education concerning healthy eating and healthy diets. Children and adults are under-consuming the recommended servings of vegetables and fruits, an established proxy for healthy eating habits, and exceeding daily recommended intakes of sodium.14,15 As the links between nutrition and disease, and the impact on the health of our society are revealed it is more important than ever to understand what influences healthy eating behaviours. Food choices are structured by a variety of individual determinants of behaviour, ranging from one's physiological state, food preferences, nutritional knowledge, perceptions of healthy eating and psychological factors. Many processed foods have become popular due to their accessibility and 'convenience factor', but these features have changed the way food and in particular these products are consumed compared to unprocessed foods: increased 'grazing', eating alone or eating while carrying out other activities such as work or driving. In addition, many calories consumed come in liquid form.16 Growth in the production and consumption of ultra-processed foods has increased drastically in the last decades in both higher and lower-income countries.17 A number of studies have shown that because less healthy foods are cheaper than healthier food, individuals from lower socioeconomic classes tend to be more dependent on unhealthy foods for nourishment.18 Other determinants for healthy eating include a wide range of contextual factors, such as the interpersonal environment created by family and peers, the physical environment, which determines food availability and accessibility, the economic environment, in which food is a commodity to be marketed for profit, and the social environment. Within the social environment, social status (income, education and gender) and cultural milieu are determinants of healthy eating that may be working "invisibly" to structure food choice.19 What we know about physical activity Canada's Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that children and youth aged 5 to 17 get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per day; and adults get 150 minutes of physical activity per week.20 In fact, about 94% of Canadian children and youth do not meet minimum physical activity guidelines.21 Furthermore, about 85% of Canadian adults do not meet the minimum guidelines. Physical activity includes but is not limited to sports and recreation. Using active transportation to get to work as well as being active at work is an alternative form of MVPA and can also lead to improved health. For most Canadians, the average day is spent on passive activities such as TV viewing, computer and game-console use, workplace sitting, and time spent in automobiles. Moreover, the sprawling suburban communities, in which many live, do not encourage physical activity. Emerging research suggests that prolonged sitting time is associated with an increased health risk.22 These findings mean that one can meet the minimum physical activity guidelines and still not engage in a healthy lifestyle. Spending a few hours a week at the gym or otherwise engaged in moderate or vigorous activity doesn't seem to significantly offset the risk. Hence too much sitting is a risk distinct from too little exercise. While further research is required to identify which methods of exercise promotions work best for individuals,23 it is clear that supportive environments and infrastructures are essential for Canadians to make physical activity part of their daily lives. CMA's policies about the Built Environment and Active Transportation support the role of the environment on our physical activity patterns. How we can promote physical activity and healthy eating A sedentary lifestyle is a cue for physician advice.24 Physical activity is a vital sign that may require as much attention as other traditional vital signs25 - weight, blood pressure, or smoking history. Physicians are eager to initiate these conversations, especially with patients living with chronic diseases. A message must be repeated many times in order to effect a change in lifestyle. Physicians can reiterate the medical importance of physical activity and healthy eating by reinforcing this message during each office visit, and writing the recommendation on a prescription pad.26 For instance, in British Columbia, physicians are prescribing exercise on specially-designed pads, distributing free pedometers, and hosting free walking events for their patients and the public. In the Edmonton area, Primary Care Networks are prescribing free access passes or a free month of access at local municipal recreation facilities. And in Nova Scotia, physicians have been running a free provincial running program for over 10 years that benefits thousands of kids in elementary school. Nonetheless these clinical interventions alone cannot shape healthier food consumption patterns and lifestyle choices. An obvious starting point to develop a comprehensive policy is to understand the interplay between individual and environmental determinants that influence our behaviours. In this regard, CMA has developed policies on Active Transportation and the Built Environment and Health which recognize the role of neighborhood design and alternative modes for transportation for an active lifestyle. This approach is also at the heart of the Integrated Pan-Canadian Healthy Living Strategy (PCHLS)27, approved in 2005 by all levels of government. CMA commends the efforts put in the PCHLS to prioritize healthy eating and physical activity. What we recommend CMA looks forward to working with others in making options for physical activity and healthy eating more available and accessible to all Canadians. The following recommendations highlight the potential contributions of the following sectors: health professionals, all levels of government, communities, workplaces, schools, the food industry and individuals and families. Health Professionals CMA encourages physicians to promote healthy eating and physical activity inside and outside their office. Physicians are lifestyle change agents and remain the preferred source of information about health for many people. Physicians, who are committed to physical activity, are role models whose advice on healthy living is more likely to be adopted.28 CMA encourages physicians to address any work-imposed limitations - such as the lack of time, motivation, or tiredness - that could also influence their own exercise and eating habits. In clinical practice, physicians can help patients start or maintain a healthy lifestyle by: * assessing nutrition and physical activity as part of routine assessments; * determining the factors that influence individual patient's nutrition and physical activity levels; * assessing patient's readiness to change and tailoring interventions and support to their current situation; * providing an exercise prescription to encourage physical activity to maintain or improve health status, and * working in inter-professional teams to provide patient education with other health care providers such as dieticians. Medical students and residents, while reporting a high level of importance for exercise prescription concede a low level of expertise in this area upon graduation.29,30,31 As knowledge develops, physicians and other health professionals should be kept updated and encouraged to incorporate the most effective interventions into their practices. The CMA encourages the development of continuing medical education courses on issues related to physical activity and healthy eating. Within the healthy living approach, there are multiple opportunities to extend the role of physicians into the community as observed in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Edmonton area. Physicians can establish strong community norms for a healthy lifestyle by: * establishing and reinforcing healthy food policies in hospital cafeterias or at health-related meetings and conferences * using, facilitating and advocating for the use of active transportation in their communities * working within the community to ensure that recreation centres and other facilities are available and patients can be referred to the services most appropriate to their needs Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Governments CMA calls on federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to commit to a long-term, well-funded Canada-wide strategy for healthy living beyond 2015. In 2005, Canada's federal, provincial, and territorial governments endorsed a 10-year Healthy Living Strategy Framework, whose initial priorities included the promotion of healthy eating and physical activity. The national strategy addressed information and support for Canadians to help them make healthy choices; support for physicians and other health professionals in counselling patients on healthy weight and in treating existing obesity; community infrastructures that make healthy living easier; and public policies that encourage healthy eating and physical activity. The federal and provincial / territorial governments have undertaken a number of activities in the intervening years to promote physical activity and healthy eating but much remains to be done. CMA believes that all levels of governments have a continuous obligation to provide public guidance on healthy eating and to promulgate policies, standards, regulations and legislations that support the availability and accessibility of healthy and affordable food and beverage choices. CMA calls on governments to improve access to nutritious food at affordable prices for all Canadians. The price of milk, fresh produce and other healthy foods can vary greatly across Canada. In many remote areas, they are often more expensive than processed, nutrition-poor foods because of high transportation costs. Governments should implement effective programs to offset the impact of transportation costs on food prices in northern and remote communities. Even in urban areas, nutritious food may be unaffordable for people on low incomes. School meal programs, social assistance rates that take into account the cost of purchasing healthy food, access to urban farmers' markets can help to ensure that all Canadians have access to healthy foods at a reasonable price. CMA calls on governments to ban marketing of foods and beverages high in salt, sugars and trans fats to those 13 years of age and younger. The typical Canadian child may be exposed to as many as 40,000 advertisements for food a year.32 This does not include point-of-sale promotions, such as displays of candy bars at convenience-store counters. CMA's policy on marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children and youth calls for a ban on marketing of foods and beverages high in salt, sugars and trans fats to those 13 years of age and younger. CMA calls on governments to set rigorous standards for front of package food labeling and for the advertising of health claims for food. Brand-specific advertising is a less than optimal way to provide health information to consumers, who should be encouraged to seek out objective information sources for answers to their questions about physical activity and healthy eating. To improve the quality of information received through commercial channels, the CMA recommends that health claims made for foods be strictly regulated to ensure that they are based on the best available scientific evidence and that they are accurately communicated to consumers. Food advertisements should be pre-cleared before airing in the media, and the provisions against deceptive advertising in the Food and Drug Act should be strengthened. CMA recommends that governments at all levels invest in evidence-based research on healthy eating and physical activity and share the results of this research with all Canadians. CMA encourages all levels of governments to continue to fund and support research for healthy lifestyles. There is a clear need to invest in research to strengthen the evidence base about physical activity and healthy eating, particularly on:
best measures for assessing overweight and obesity;
the effectiveness of weight management and treatment programs; and
the effect of policy interventions on healthy eating and physical activity on rates of obesity and obesity-related disease. Food Industry CMA encourages governments to continue to work with the food industry to improve the food environment in Canada. The partnership and collaboration of food manufacturers is needed to help Canadians make healthier food choices. The food industry can work with governments to:
reduce the salt, sugar, saturated fat, trans fat and calorie content of processed foods and pre-prepared meals;
provide information about the calorie and nutrition content on restaurant menus;
restrict advertising and in-store promotion of high-sugar, high-salt, high-fat foods, particularly those aimed at children;
provide user-friendly consumer information about their products, including and accurate health and advertising claims;
improve the nutrition fact table to make it more user friendly and increase the amount of information for example, by identifying the amount of free sugars. Communities CMA calls on municipal governments to create environments that encourage healthy and active living and on federal, provincial and territorial governments to support them in this endeavour. Communities have an important role to play to promote healthy behaviours for children, youth, and adults. They shape how many Canadians decide to live, work and play in their daily life. Through mixed-use land planning and building design, communities can create walking-friendly environments, and reduce the time people spend in cars. To achieve this, communities should consider:
developing and maintaining a community-wide network of walking and cycling paths;
zoning communities in such a way that amenities are within walking distance of homes; and
revising building codes to make stairs accessible, pleasant and safe, so that people have an alternative to taking the elevator. Canadians are considerably more physically active in the summer than in the winter and this could have an impact on obesity trends.33 Communities could improve pathways to healthy lifestyles year-round by improving access to indoor sport and recreation facilities, especially during winter. Where possible, communities should consider partnering with schools to share the use of gymnasiums, playgrounds, fields, courts, and tracks with the public after school hours and on weekends. In doing so, communities are ensuring the best use of time and resources, but also sharing liability for the development, operation, and maintenance of the facilities. Community food security can happen if local residents have equal access to safe, affordable and nutritious food. Communities have a role to play in advocating for healthier food options in schools and workplaces, encouraging community kitchens to teach cooking skills, and supporting local agriculture and farmers markets. This, in turn, would encourage individuals to eat more healthy foods. Workplaces CMA encourages employers to actively promote the health of their employees by providing opportunities for physical activity, and healthy food choices in cafeterias. Prolonged, unbroken time spent sitting in front of a screen is very common in the workplace. In addition, four out of five commuters sit daily in their private vehicles to go to work.34 As Canadians spend most of their adult life at work, it is important to reduce workplace sitting. CMA encourages employers, especially in sedentary occupational groups, to increase opportunities for physical activity. For example, employers can promote healthy behaviours by:
Building on-site fitness facilities or entering into agreements with off-site fitness centres to provide programs for their employees
Providing showers, bike racks and other amenities for employees for those who want to commute to work on foot or by bike. Healthier food options in cafeteria and vending machines can promote and encourage healthy eating by employees. Schools Schools, where children spend most of their time outside of home, present an excellent opportunity to instil healthy behaviours at an early age. They could, for example, provide comprehensive nutrition education, serve nutritious food in their cafeterias and promote physical activity by providing formal instruction and informal recreation time. Schools can provide the most effective and efficient way to reach not only the children themselves, but their parents, teachers, and other community members.35 CMA encourages school boards to provide at least 60 minutes of active daily physical education for all primary and secondary grades. Only 26% of Canadian schools reported that they had implemented daily physical education classes for their students.36 There is some evidence that school-based physical activity can increase physical activity levels and reduce time spent watching television at home. 37 For instance, schools can promote physical activity through unstructured out-of-home play, structured sports, or active transportation (e.g. walking to school). Children who are physically active and spend less time watching television after school are less likely to become overweight before age 12.38 CMA recommends that schools provide access to attractive, affordable, healthy food choices, provide nutrition education, and initiate programs aimed at encouraging healthy food consumption and skills to prepare meals from scratch. CMA calls for restrictions on the sale of high-calorie, high fats, sugars or salts foods/drinks in recreational facilities frequented by young people. Fast food restaurants and convenience stores can be an important influence on children's eating habits and food choices.39 Children attending schools within a short distance of fast food restaurants eat fewer fruits and vegetable servings, and drink more soft drinks than others who did not have similar establishments within proximity.40 To encourage effective school-based nutrition interventions, it is therefore important to educate students about the nutrition value of foods, healthy food choices, and provide healthy canteens or cafeterias. Individuals and families CMA recommends that all Canadians work toward achieving and maintaining health by:
educating themselves about their dietary needs and about the caloric and nutrition content of foods; and
engaging in physical activity, with the goal of at least 60 minutes of moderate activity per day for children and youth, and 150 minutes per week for adults. Ultimately, healthy eating and physical activity require that individuals take action to make healthy choices in their lives. To inform these choices, Canadians should be supported with appropriate resource materials with consistent information about healthy eating and physical activity. For instance, many young children do not choose what they consume; their parents buy and prepare the food for them. Research suggests that mothers and children appear to have divergent attitudes towards food and mealtimes.41 In this regard, it is important for parents to be well-informed and able to explain the tangible benefits of foods and their nutritional components to their children before they reach adulthood. What we conclude Healthy behaviours are easier to maintain through life if acquired in childhood and encouraged by the family. Therefore Canadian families should be supported in efforts to ensure that both children and adults eat nutritiously and exercise daily. We believe there is a role for everyone in promoting healthy behaviours - including health professionals, individuals, families, schools, workplaces, communities, the food industry and all levels of governments. Popular approaches seek to provide individuals with information and options about healthy lifestyles choices. However, individual choice is not sufficient to ensure healthy behaviours. Many barriers to the adoption of healthy behaviours and lifestyle choices can be met through a targeted population health approach, and evidence-based policy and regulatory controls. A comprehensive change in culture and mindset, political endorsement and multifaceted strategies are needed to promote and facilitate change to improve the dietary practices and physical activity levels of Canadians. Summary of Recommendations 1. The Canadian Medical Association encourages physicians to promote healthy eating and physical activity inside and outside their office. 2. The Canadian Medical Association calls on federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to commit to a long-term, well-funded Canada-wide strategy for healthy living beyond 2015. 3. The Canadian Medical Association calls on governments to improve access to nutritious food at affordable prices for all Canadians. 4. The Canadian Medical Association calls on governments to ban marketing of foods and beverages high in salt, sugars and trans fats to those 13 years of age and younger. 5. The Canadian Medical Association calls on governments to set rigorous standards for front of package food labeling and for the advertising of health claims for food. 6. The Canadian Medical Association recommends that governments at all levels invest in evidence-based research on healthy eating and physical activity and share the results of this research with all Canadians. 7. The Canadian Medical Association encourages governments to continue to work with the food industry to improve the food environment in Canada. 8. The Canadian Medical Association calls on municipal governments to create environments that encourage healthy and active living and on federal, provincial and territorial governments to support them in this endeavour. 9. The Canadian Medical Association encourages employers to actively promote the health of their employees by providing opportunities for physical activity, and healthy food choices in cafeterias. 10. The Canadian Medical Association encourages school boards to provide at least 60 minutes of active daily physical education for all primary and secondary grades. 11. The Canadian Medical Association recommends that schools provide access to attractive, affordable, healthy food choices, provide nutrition education, and initiate programs aimed at encouraging healthy food consumption and skills to prepare meals from scratch. 12. The Canadian Medical Association calls for restrictions on the sale of high-calorie, high fats, sugars or salts foods/drinks in recreational facilities frequented by young people. 13. The Canadian Medical Association recommends that all Canadians work toward achieving and maintaining health by: * educating themselves about their dietary needs and about the caloric and nutrition content of foods; and * engaging in physical activity, with the goal of at least 60 minutes of moderate activity per day for children and youth, and 150 minutes per week for adults. References 1 Swinburn B, Egger G. The runaway weight gain train: too many accelerators, not enough brakes. 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Medical students' self-perceived competence and prescription of patient-centered physical activity. Prev Med. 2009;48(2):164-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.12.006 32 The Kaiser Family Foundation. The role of media in childhood obesity. Menlo Park (CA): The Foundation; 2004 Feb. Available: http://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/the-role-of-media-in-childhood-obesity.pdf (accessed 2014 Mar 19). 33 Merchant AT, Dehghan M, Akhtar-Danesh N. Seasonal variation in leisure-time physical activity among Canadians Can J Public Health. 2007;98(3):203-8. 34 Statistics Canada. Commuting to work. National Household Survey. 2011. Available: https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/as-sa/99-012-x/99-012-x2011003_1-eng.cfm (accessed 2014 Jan 20). 35 Perez-Rodrigo C. School-based nutrition education: lessons learned and new perspectives. Public Health Nutr. 2001;4(1A):131-9. 36 Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute. 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Do parents and children agree? Public Health Nutr. 2001;4(1A):141-6.

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