Alberta Doctors' Digest Editor-in-Chief, Marvin Polis, talks to Dr. Karla Gustafson, 
Medical Officer of Health, Calgary Zone about income as a socioeconomic determinant of health. They discuss the Reducing the Impact of Financial Strain (RIFS) initiative

Reducing the impact of financial strain 

Income is one of the most powerful determinants of health, and intervening can have a profound impact for individuals and families. Individuals living with financial strain typically have worse health outcomes.

  • 38% of Canadians are regularly stressed about money
  • 55% of Albertans say they lose sleep over money

- FP Canada, 2021 Financial Stress Index

Reducing the Impact of Financial Strain (RIFS) project and the associated tools, training and resources are the result of a collaboration that supports primary care screening for, and responding to, financial concerns among patients. It strengthens linkages to community services and builds capacity to address gaps. 

An exciting opportunity now exists because there are simple, evidence-based actions that health care teams can do to help patients experiencing financial strain.

Addressing this concern requires new approaches from teams in the patient's medical home as well as the health neighbourhood. These partnerships and collaborations will be essential to enhance the care provided to patients.

You can learn more about RIFS, see the tools that clinics teams used when implementing this change in their practice, watch short digital stories from those who participated, or take the training developed for clinics wanting to implement financial strain screening in their practice. 

Did you know?

The RIFS (Reducing the Impact of Financial Strain) project is a joint development between Population and Public Health, Primary Health Care programs, Indigenous Wellness Core and the Alberta Medical Association. The work of the collaborating pilot sites is gratefully acknowledged:

Banner image credit: Frantisek Krejci,