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Coming to Canada: the difference in health trajectories between immigrants and native-born residents

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International Journal of Public Health



This study investigates improvements as well as declines in health with four health measures for immigrants and native-born residents.


We used longitudinal data from Statistics Canada National Population Health Survey, which represented 8,474 native-born residents and 1,339 immigrants from 1994/95 to 2004/05. Multinomial logistic regressions were used to evaluate self-perceived health, chronic condition, health utility index, and body mass index.


The results showed that some immigrants were more likely to report a decline in health, while others were more likely to report an improvement in health relative to native-born residents. For example, immigrants had a higher odds ratio of both reporting (1.63: 95 % CI 1.22–2.18) and no longer reporting (1.49: 95 % CI 1.04–2.14) a chronic condition in subsequent survey years than native-born residents.


Our finding may be attributable to immigrants inconsistently reporting, or a dichotomous health trajectory. Longitudinal data with physical measurements may be required to decipher our observations.

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This work was supported by Dr. Hude Quan’s Alberta Innovates Health Solutions Health Scholar award. The funding sources had no role in the study’s design, data collection, analysis, or interpretation.

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Correspondence to Lawrence So.

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So, L., Quan, H. Coming to Canada: the difference in health trajectories between immigrants and native-born residents. Int J Public Health 57, 893–904 (2012).

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