The role of immigrant admission classes on the health and well-being of immigrants and refugees in Canada: a scoping review
Authours: Sara Morassaei, Emma Irvin, Peter M. Smith, Kathi Wilson, & Setareh Ghahar.
Foreign nationals are admitted to Canada through three pathways: economic class, family sponsorship, and refugees and humanitarian class. The majority of persons are admitted under the economic class.
A large body of evidence indicates that new immigrants and refugees are healthier, than the Canadian born population when they arrive, however they lose this health advantage over time, and their health begins to deteriorate. This is known as the “healthy immigrant effect.”
A scoping review was conducted to answer the question: “What is the current evidence on the role of admission classes on the post-migration health outcomes of immigrants and refugees in Canada”?
Twenty seven Canadian studies were identified and categorized into four reported outcomes: health care and services utilization, self-rated health and mental health, medical conditions and chronic illnesses, and social integration and satisfaction. Some of the findings revealed or confirmed the following:
- Although refugees were less likely to use specialized mental health services, refugee men were more likely to access primary mental health care than Canadian-born persons or long-term residents.
- Economic class immigrants had lower health care utilization than those from other classes.\
- Refugees and family class immigrants were more likely to transition from good to poor health after 2–4 years of arrival compared to economic class immigrants.
- Refugee men were less likely to report positive mental health than family or economic class immigrant men.
- Refugees and family class immigrants reported higher life satisfaction after 6 months of arrival when compared to economic class immigrants. After 4 years, economic class immigrants still had the lowest life satisfaction among immigrant groups.
How does this research apply to my work?
The authors noted the following for practice and policy:
- There is a need for more targeted interventions. This includes allocating new services or redeploying existing resources, such as language training, employment services, and community support programs, to more vulnerable subgroups including refugees, family class and dependent immigrants.
- More targeted advertising and marketing campaigns to promote awareness of settlement services agencies. Newcomers may not be familiar with health care services available in Canada. Many are not aware of, or do not know how to access settlement services.
What should I take away from this research?
While all immigrants and refugees experience some challenges related to resettlement, certain subgroups of immigrants have worse health outcomes after arrival. The review highlighted the need for more targeted supports for specific immigrant subgroups that may be more vulnerable, particularly, resources that provide mental health and social support to refugees, family class and other dependent immigrants.
What is the next step?
The authors explained that due to data limitations it is challenging to use an intersectional lens to explore how the health of newcomers by admission class intersect with social identities and/or positions, such as visible minority status, social class, education, presence of a discernable accent, and type of accent, gender, race, and other important issues. They also noted that future research is needed to examine the connection between different admission classes on health and well-being in later-life.
To read the full article, click here.