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Diabetes screening among immigrants: a population-based urban cohort study


Objective — To examine diabetes screening, predictors of screening, and the burden of undiagnosed diabetes in the immigrant population and whether these estimates differ by ethnicity.

Research Design and Methods — A population-based retrospective cohort linking administrative health data to immigration files was used to follow the entire diabetes-free population aged 40 years and up in Ontario, Canada (N = 3,484,222) for 3 years (2004–2007) to determine whether individuals were screened for diabetes. Multivariate regression was used to determine predictors of having a diabetes test.

Results — Screening rates were slightly higher in the immigrant versus the general population (76.0 and 74.4%, respectively; P < 0.001), with the highest rates in people born in South Asia, Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Immigrant seniors (age ≥ 65 years) were screened less than nonimmigrant seniors. Percent yield of new diabetes subjects among those screened was high for certain countries of birth (South Asia, 13.0%; Mexico and Latin America, 12.1%; Caribbean, 9.5%) and low among others (Europe, Central Asia, U.S., 5.1–5.2%). The number of physician visits was the single most important predictor of screening, and many high-risk ethnic groups required numerous visits before a test was administered. The proportion of diabetes that remained undiagnosed was estimated to be 9.7% in the general population and 9.0% in immigrants.

Conclusions — Overall diabetes-screening rates are high in Canada’s universal healthcare setting, including among high-risk ethnic groups. Despite this finding, disparities in screening rates between immigrant subgroups persist and multiple physician visits are often required to achieve recommended screening levels.



Creatore MI, Booth GL, Manuel DG, Moineddin R, Glazier RH. Diabetes Care. 2012; 35(4):754-61. Epub 2012 Mar 13.

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