Migrations and gradations : reappraising the health profile of immigrants to Canada
Hawes, Robert Alexander.
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New immigrants to Canada typically have a more favourable health profile than the non-immigrant population. This phenomenon, known as the 'healthy immigrant effect', has been attributed to both the socioeconomic advantage (ie. educational attainment, occupational opportunity) of non-refugee immigrants and existing screening protocols that admit only the healthiest of persons to Canada. It has been suggested that this health advantage diminishes as the time of residence in Canada increases, due in part to the adoption of health-risk behaviours such as alcohol and cigarette use, an increase in excess body weight, and declining rates of physical activity. However, the majority of health research concerning immigrants to Canada has been limited to cross-sectional studies (Dunn & Dyck, 2000; Newbold & Danforth, 2003), which may mask an immigrant-specific cohort effect. Furthermore, the practice of aggregating foreign-bom persons by geographical regions or treating all immigrants as a homogeneous group may also obfuscate intra-immigrant differences in health. Accordingly, this study uses the Canadian National Population Health Surveys (NPHS) and data from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to prospectively evaluate factors that predict health status among immigrants to Canada. Each immigrant in the NPHS was linked to the UNDP Human Development Index of their country of birth, which uses a combined measure of health, education, and per capita income of the populace. The six-year change in health function, psychological distress, and self-rated health were considered from a population health perspective (Evans, 1994), using generalized-estimating equations (GEE) to examine the compounding effect of past and recent predictors of health. Demographic