This report reviews the state of Canadian public opinion on healthcare, focusing on trends over the past five years. It combines a discussion of public opinion with an analysis of media content on healthcare issues. The first section is a continuation of work in previous state-of-opinion reports and follows a similar logic, reviewing results from all recent and readily available commercial polling on healthcare issues. The second section presents an entirely new exploration of communication and opinion in healthcare matters, presenting results from a content analysis of more than 100,000 articles on healthcare in major Canadian English- and French-language dailies from the past 15 years.
This combination of opinion and media analysis is intended to highlight the connection between public attitudes and media coverage of the Canadian healthcare system. It identifies trends in opinion, focusing in particular on public attitudes about quality, sustainability and public versus private provision of services. It reveals some gradual, long-term shifts in media content, including a recent period of “crisis”-oriented coverage. It also suggests that media content and public opinion are intimately linked. Individuals’ attitudes about their own doctors and hospitals are based on their own personal experiences; their attitudes about the system-at-large are necessarily based in part on other sources of information, including media content.