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    The Health of Inuit, Métis and First Nations Adults Living Off-Reserve in Canada: The Impact of Socio-economic Status on Inequalities in Health

    The Health of Inuit, Métis and First Nations Adults Living Off-Reserve in Canada: The Impact of Socio-economic Status on Inequalities in Health

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    by Rochelle Garner, Gisèle Carrière, Claudia Sanmartin and the Longitudinal Health and Administrative Data Research Team

    Executive summary

    Aboriginal people – First Nations, Métis and Inuit – comprise a growing proportion of the Canadian population.  Despite the younger average age of these populations, First Nations, Métis and Inuit people tend to suffer a greater burden of morbidity and mortality than non-Aboriginal Canadians.  This may be due, in part, to higher rates of socio-economic disadvantage in Aboriginal populations.

    The objectives of the current study were:

    • To describe the health and well-being of Inuit, Métis and First Nations adults living off-reserve, and to compare these characteristics to those of non-Aboriginal adults;
    • To examine the contribution of socio-economic and lifestyle factors to the health inequalities between Inuit, Métis and First Nations adults living off-reserve and non-Aboriginal adults; and
    • To examine the health-related impact of socio-economic and lifestyle factors for each of non-Aboriginal, First Nations people living off-reserve, Métis and Inuit adults.

    To achieve these objectives, analyses were conducted using data from the 2006 Aboriginal Peoples Survey and the 2007 Canadian Community Health Survey (Cycle 4.1).  Examinations were limited to adults aged 20 and older from both surveys.

    Findings showed that First Nations, Métis and Inuit adults were less likely to report excellent or very good health than non-Aboriginal adults, and were more likely to suffer from an activity-limiting condition.  Furthermore, First Nations and Métis adults were more likely to be diagnosed with one of several chronic conditions than were non-Aboriginal adults, whereas Inuit adults were equally or less likely to be diagnosed with such conditions.  Taking into account factors such as income and education minimized, but did not always eliminate, health disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal adults.  Adjusting for other factors such as smoking status, body mass index, contact with a health professional, or living in an urban centre did little to further lessen health disparities.  As well, the impact of many of these factors on health was different for the various Aboriginal groups than they were among non-Aboriginal adults.

    Results of this study showed that, while income and educational levels partially explained differences in health between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, disparities often persisted.  Such findings point to the existence of other factors contributing to the greater burden of morbidity among First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.  Furthermore, the factors often associated with health in the general population do not act in the same way among specific Aboriginal populations.  Future research may wish to examine broader, more culturally-relevant predictors of health among Aboriginal people.

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