Prevalence of intellectual and developmental disabilities among first generation adult newcomers, and the health and health service use of this group: A retrospective cohort study

Published: June 20, 2019
Category: Bibliography
Authors: Anna Durbin, Elizabeth Lin, Hannah Chung, James K. H. Jung, Robert Balogh, Yona Lunsky
Countries: Canada
Language: English
Types: Care Management, Population Health
Settings: Hospital



Attention to research and planning are increasingly being devoted to newcomer health, but the needs of newcomers with disabilities remain largely unknown. This information is difficult to determine since population-level data are rarely available on newcomers or on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), although in Ontario, Canada these databases are accessible. This study compared the prevalence of IDD among first generation adult newcomers to adult non-newcomers in Ontario, and assessed how having IDD affected the health profile and health service use of newcomers.


This population-based retrospective cohort study of adults aged 19–65 in 2010 used linked health and social services administrative data. Prevalence of IDD among newcomers (n = 1,649,633) and non-newcomers (n = 6,880,196) was compared. Among newcomers, those with IDD (n = 2,830) and without IDD (n = 1,646,803) were compared in terms of health conditions, and community and hospital service use.


Prevalence of IDD was lower in newcomers than non-newcomers (171.6 versus 898.3 per 100,000 adults, p<0.0001). Among newcomers, those with IDD were more likely than those without IDD to have comorbid physical health disorders, non-psychotic, psychotic and substance use disorders. Newcomers with IDD were also more likely to have psychiatry visits, and frequent emergency department visits and hospitalizations.


First generation adult newcomers have lower rates of IDD than non-newcomers. How much of this difference is attributable to admission policies that exclude people expected to be high health service users versus how much is attributable to our methodological approach is unknown. Finding more medical and psychiatric comorbidity, and more health service use among newcomers with IDD compared to newcomers without IDD is consistent with patterns observed in adults with IDD more generally. To inform polices that support newcomers with IDD future research should investigate reasons for the prevalence finding, barriers and facilitators to timely health care access, and pathways to care.

intellectual and developmental disabilities, IDD, population health

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