, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 29-33

Chronic Disease Prevalence in Immigrants to Israel from the Former USSR

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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of chronic health conditions in the Russian population who immigrated to Israel during 1989–1992. Interviewer-supported self-administered questionnaires were distributed to a 50% random sample of 1710 immigrants residing in the city of Nazareth-Ilit in Northern Israel. The final study group included 897 adults after a 3.5% of noncompliance. The study participants were asked to report all chronic diseases from a list of 11 disease states. The data were coupled with their demographic data and are presented as age/sex-specific prevalence rates. Self-reported disease prevalence rates among the Russian immigrants to Israel were found to be very high (62.2% of the males and 68.7% of the females reported a mean 3–3.5 diseases per person). These reported rates were significantly higher for immigrants from the European republics (67.1%) than for those from Asian republics (55.6%). The highest reported age-specific disease prevalence rates were for musculoskeletal diseases (389/1000), ischemic heart disease (340/1000), gastrointestinal diseases (269/1000), and hypertension (226/1000). A higher rate among females was found for almost all disease states. The prevalence rates reported by the Russian Jews in this study are much higher than commonly observed in Western countries. This is in accordance with a similar difference in reported mortality rates between Western countries and the former USSR. The etiologic explanation of this finding is yet to be studied. In addition, and in light of the mass immigration of Eastern European residents to the West it is of major importance for local health authorities to respond appropriately to the differences in health status of these immigrating populations.