Worse physical health among those discriminated against in Canada

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It is imperative to understand the health consequences of refugees who have settled in Canada, especially due to the influx of refugees expected to come to Canada due to global crises such as the war in Ukraine.

A recent University of Toronto study has suggested that the health status of working-age refugees (ages 15-64) is similar to that of immigrants and Canadian-born individuals. More than nine-tenths of refugees, many of whom arrived in Canada decades ago, reported good health. These findings are in contrast to previous research in the US and elsewhere that suggested worse physical health outcomes among refugees compared to those born in the host country. Canada’s universal health coverage is likely to have contributed to positive health outcomes among refugees in the study.

Overall, race also did not appear to be a factor in physical health outcomes, with nine out of ten racialized Canadians reporting good physical health, which was comparable to the White population.

One of the main findings of the study concerns the interaction between discrimination and health. About 40% of refugees and immigrants, and one-third of those born in Canada, reported experiencing some form of discrimination (eg racism, sexism, ageism) in the past 5 years. Refugees, immigrants, and non-discriminatory Canadian-born respondents were almost twice as likely to report good health.

“While the high prevalence of good physical health among refugees and migrants is very encouraging, the strong link we found between discrimination and poor health underscores the importance of anti-discrimination strategies and education in health and workplace settings.” the first author in question is Alyssa McAlpine, recent MSW graduate from the Factor-Inwentash School of Social Work (FIFSW) at the University of Toronto.

Good mental health was the strongest factor associated with good physical health. Only 1 in 5 refugees with poor mental health have good physical health, compared to 94% of refugees with good mental health.

“Our findings emphasize that mind and body are one. It is important for doctors, social workers and other health professionals to screen for mental illness and refer those struggling for treatment. There is strong evidence that there is a particular form of talk therapy. Senior author, professor at FIFSW “The therapy, called cognitive behavioral therapy, is very effective on refugees as well as the general population,” said Esme Fuller-Thomson, director of the Life Course and Institute on Aging at the University of Toronto.

Social support networks have also been associated with physical health. Those who belonged to social groups or associations and those who were married were more likely to be physically healthy.

“Overall, our findings demonstrate the importance of promoting programs to improve social networks and opportunities for refugees,” said Professor Usha George, Academic Director of the Toronto Metropolitan Center for Migration and Settlement. “More social integration could be protective for the health of refugees, especially those who are socially isolated.”

Additionally, among refugees, women were more likely to report good physical health. In contrast, among immigrants, males had a higher prevalence of good physical health, and among those born in Canada, there was no gender difference in self-reported physical health.

Data in the study are from Statistics Canada’s 27th nationally representative General Social Survey (GSS-27). In total, there were 17,082 participants, including refugees (n=753), immigrants (n=5.063), and Canadian-born individuals (n=11.266) aged 15-64. This article was published Advances in Public Health.

This publication is co-author, who passed away on May 28, 2022, Dr. Dedicated to Karen Kobayashi. Karen Kobayashi has dedicated her career to improving the well-being of immigrants in Canada and guiding future generations. immigrant scientists.

More information:
Alyssa McAlpine et al., Self-Reported Health of Working-age Refugees, Immigrants, and Canadian-borns, Advances in Public Health (2022). DOI: 10.1155/2022/9429242

Provided by the University of Toronto

Quotation: Poor physical health among those discriminated against in Canada (2022, 16 Dec), on 16 Dec 2022 at https://phys.org/news/2022-12-poorer-physical-health-discrimination-canada.html receipt.

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