Immigrant status and having a regular medical doctor among Canadian adults

Michelle L. Degelman, Katya M. Herman


OBJECTIVE: New immigrants generally arrive in Canada with a health advantage over their Canadian counterparts, but lose that advantage over time. Difficulties in acquiring a physician may contribute. Past studies relied on older data, and lacked control for many confounders and assessment of gender differences. We assessed the relationship between immigrant status and having a regular doctor among Canadian adults.

METHODS: Cross-sectional data from the 2011–2012 Canadian Community Health Survey were self-reported by 73,958 respondents aged 18–64, representing >20 million Canadian adults. The relationship between immigrant status and having a doctor was analyzed using χ2 and logistic regression analyses stratified by gender. Age, body mass index, race, education, province of residence, physical activity, chronic conditions, self-perceived health, and number of children in household were controlled.

RESULTS: Approximately 77% of males and 87% of females reported having a doctor. About 7% of respondents reported being new immigrants in Canada (0–9 years), while 16% were established immigrants (≥10 years). For males (M) and females (F) respectively, 78% and 88% of non-immigrants, 55% and 68% of new immigrants, and 84% and 91% of established immigrants reported having a doctor (p < 0.001). Compared to non-immigrants, new immigrants were significantly less likely to have a doctor (OR (95% CI) M: 0.43 (0.38–0.47); F: 0.36 (0.32–0.41)), while established immigrants were significantly more likely to have a doctor (M: 1.13 (1.03–1.24); F: 1.16 (1.03–1.30)).

CONCLUSION: New Canadian immigrants are less likely to have a regular doctor compared to non-immigrants, and should be targeted by policies and programs facilitating finding a doctor.


Canada; immigrant health; healthy immigrant effect; primary health care; health services accessibility

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