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      Significant differences in the use of healthcare resources of native-born and foreign born in Spain

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          In the last decade, the number of foreign residents in Spain has doubled and it has become one of the countries in the European Union with the highest number of immigrants There is no doubt that the health of the immigrant population has become a relevant subject from the point of view of public healthcare. Our study aimed at describing the potential inequalities in the use of healthcare resources and in the lifestyles of the resident immigrant population of Spain.


          Cross-sectional, epidemiological study from the Spanish National Health Survey (NHS) in 2006, from the Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs. We have worked with individualized secondary data, collected in the Spanish National Health Survey carried out in 2006 and 2007 (SNHS-06), from the Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs. The format of the SNHS-06 has been adapted to the requirements of the European project for the carrying out of health surveys.


          The economic immigrant population resident in Spain, present diseases that are similar to those of the indigenous population. The immigrant population shows significantly lower values in the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and physical activity (OR = 0.76; CI 95%: 0.65–0.89, they nonetheless perceive their health condition as worse than that reported by the autochthonous population (OR = 1.63, CI 95%: 1.34–1.97). The probability of the immigrant population using emergency services in the last 12 months was significantly greater than that of the autochthonous population (OR = 1.31, CI 95%: 1.12–1.54). This situation repeats itself when analyzing hospitalization data, with values of probability of being hospitalized greater among immigrants (OR = 1.39, CI 95%: 1.07–1.81).


          The economic immigrants have better parameters in relation to lifestyles, but they have a poor perception of their health. Despite the fact that immigrant population shows higher percentages of emergency attendance and hospitalization than the indigenous population, with respect to the use of healthcare resources, their usage of healthcare resources such as drugs, influenza vaccinations or visits to the dentist is lower.

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          Most cited references 44

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          Trends and disparities in socioeconomic and behavioural characteristics, life expectancy, and cause-specific mortality of native-born and foreign-born populations in the United States, 1979-2003.

          Immigrants are a growing segment of the US population. In 2003, there were 33.5 million immigrants, accounting for 12% of the total US population. Despite a rapid increase in their numbers, little information exists as to how immigrants' health and mortality profile has changed over time. In this study, we analysed trends in social and behavioural characteristics, life expectancy, and mortality patterns of immigrants and the US-born from 1979 to 2003. We used national mortality and census data (1979-2003) and 1993 and 2003 National Health Interview Surveys to examine nativity differentials over time in health and social characteristics. Life tables, age-adjusted death rates, and logistic regression were used to examine nativity differentials. During 1979-81, immigrants had 2.3 years longer life expectancy than the US-born (76.2 vs 73.9 years). The difference increased to 3.4 years in 1999-2001 (80.0 vs 76.6 years). Nativity differentials in mortality increased over time for major cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases, unintentional injuries, and suicide, with immigrants experiencing generally lower mortality than the US-born in each period. Specifically, in 1999-2001, immigrants had at least 30% lower mortality from lung and oesophageal cancer, COPD, suicide, and HIV/AIDS, but at least 50% higher mortality from stomach and liver cancer than the US-born. Nativity differentials in mortality, health, and behavioural characteristics varied substantially by ethnicity. Growing ethnic heterogeneity of the immigrant population, and its migration selectivity and continuing advantages in behavioural characteristics may partly explain the overall widening health gaps between immigrants and the US-born.
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            Access to health care for ethnic minority populations.

             A Szczepura (2005)
            This paper reviews the research evidence on access to health care by ethnic minority populations, and discusses what might need to be done to improve access to services. Research on the process of care, and the quality of care received, is considered as well as studies examining uptake of services. Changes in legal context are increasing the pressure on healthcare organisations to examine and adapt their services to ensure equitable access. Examples presented include a new UK population cancer screening programme. The main challenges for clinicians, managers, and policy makers in ensuring equitable access are discussed.
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              Health of foreign-born people in the United States: a review.

              This paper identifies the overarching patterns of immigrant health in the US. Most studies indicate that foreign-born individuals are in better health than native-born Americans, including individuals of the same race/ethnicity. They tend to have lower mortality rates and are less likely to suffer from circulatory diseases, overweight/obesity, and some cancers. However, many foreign-born groups have higher rates of diabetes, some infections, and occupational injuries. There is heterogeneity in health among immigrants, whose health increasingly resembles that of natives with duration of US residence. Prospective studies are needed to better understand migrant health and inform interventions for migrant health maintenance.

                Author and article information

                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central
                25 June 2009
                : 9
                : 201
                [1 ]Unit of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Rey Juan Carlos University, Alcorcón, Madrid, Spain
                Copyright © 2009 Carrasco-Garrido et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article

                Public health


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