PLoS One 10:e0145233.
University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway; Norwegian Centre for Minority Health Research, Oslo, Norway; Aragón Health Sciences Institute (IACS), Zaragoza, Spain; Carlos III Health Institute, Madrid, Spain; San Pablo Health Centre, Zaragoza, Spain; University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain; University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
INTRODUCTION: As the flows of immigrant populations increase worldwide, their heterogeneity becomes apparent with respect to the differences in the prevalence of chronic physical and mental disease. Multimorbidity provides a new framework in understanding chronic diseases holistically as the consequence of environmental, social, and personal risks that contribute to increased vulnerability to a wide variety of illnesses. There is a lack of studies on multimorbidity among immigrants compared to native-born populations.
METHODOLOGY: This nationwide multi-register study in Norway enabled us i) to study the associations between multimorbidity and immigrant origin, accounting for other known risk factors for multimorbidity such as gender, age and socioeconomic levels using logistic regression analyses, and ii) to identify patterns of multimorbidity in Norway for immigrants and Norwegian-born by means of exploratory factor analysis technique.
RESULTS: Multimorbidity rates were lower for immigrants compared to Norwegian-born individuals, with unadjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals 0.38 (0.37-0.39) for Eastern Europe, 0.58 (0.57-0.59) for Asia, Africa and Latin America, and 0.67 (0.66-0.68) for Western Europe and North America. Results remained significant after adjusting for socioeconomic factors. Similar multimorbidity disease patterns were observed among Norwegian-born and immigrants, in particular between Norwegian-born and those from Western European and North American countries. However, the complexity of patterns that emerged for the other immigrant groups was greater. Despite differences observed in the development of patterns with age, such as ischemic heart disease among immigrant women, we were unable to detect the systematic development of the multimorbidity patterns among immigrants at younger ages.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study confirms that migrants have lower multimorbidity levels compared to Norwegian-born. The greater complexity of multimorbidity patterns for some immigrant groups requires further investigation. Health care policies and practice will require a holistic approach for specific population groups in order to meet their health needs and to curb and prevent diseases.
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