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Cross-cultural comparisons of health status in Canada using the Health Utilities Index

Kopec JA, Williams JI, To T, Austin PC. Ethn Health. 2001; 6(1):41-50.


Objective — The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in health status, as measured by the Health Utilities Index (HUI), among seven cultural groups in Canada defined by place of birth and language.

Design — The study analysed cross-sectional data from the National Population Health Survey conducted by Statistics Canada in 1994-95.

Results — Age-standardized prevalence of dysfunction, defined as HUI < 0.83, varied from 12.7% in English-speaking immigrants to 17.8% in French-speaking Canadians. Considerable differences between the groups were found in the reporting of pain, emotional function, and cognitive function. The variation in HUI scores across the cultural groups could not be explained by differences in socioeconomic status and self-reported chronic conditions.

Conclusions — Although the healthy immigrant effect is probably responsible for some of the variation in health status among cultural groups in Canada, considerable differences exist within the immigrant and Canadian-born populations. Cultural factors may have a substantial effect on the reporting of pain and mental health problems. Further studies are needed to determine the cross-cultural validity of the HUI.

Keywords: Ethnicity and culture Social determinants of health Research and statistical methods

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