New research reveals significant disparities in the health of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal adults in Canada. The report from Statistics Canada looks at the health of First Nations adults who are not living on reserve, and Inuit and Métis adults over age 20. The research builds on growing evidence of health disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal adults:
- First Nations living off-reserve, Inuit and Métis adults over age 20 are less likely to report excellent or very good health, and more likely to report at least one activity limitation, than non-Aboriginal adults;
- Diagnosis with a chronic condition, including arthritis, diabetes, heart problems and cancer, is more likely for First Nations living off-reserve and Métis adults than for non-Aboriginal adults;
- Diagnosis of such conditions is equally or less likely for Inuit adults than for non-Aboriginal adults; and
- The health gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal adults are even more pronounced when the younger average age of the Aboriginal population is considered.
When taken into account, factors such as income and education minimized but did not fully explain health disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal adults in Canada. Additional factors that are often associated with health in the general population, such as smoking status, body mass index, contact with health professionals and living in an urban centre, did little to lessen health disparities.
Based on these findings, the authors conclude that factors such as social exclusion and racism may play an important role in creating and maintaining health disparities and should be explored. Noting the differences in health outcomes between various Aboriginal groups, the report also highlights the need for disaggregated data collection.
The report is part of the Longitudinal Health and Administrative Data (LHAD) initiative and uses data from the Aboriginal Peoples Survey 2006 and the 2007 Canadian Community Health Survey.
See “The Health of First Nations Living Off-Reserve, Inuit, and Métis Adults in Canada: The Impact of Socio-Economic Status on Inequalities in Health,” Statistics Canada, June 2010, available at www.statcan.gc.ca.