Adolescent health and adaptation in Canada: Examination of gender and age aspects of the healthy immigrant effect
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Original versionInternational Journal for Equity in Health 2014, 13 10.1186/s12939-014-0103-5
Introduction A longstanding and widely held assumption is that immigrants suffer from ill health and adaptation problems. Yet recent studies show that immigrants report the same or better state of health compared to their native-born counterparts. This phenomenon, known as the healthy immigrant effect, has been found in studies of specific health conditions of adults. The present study focuses instead on adolescents and extends its examination of the healthy immigrant effect, measuring both health and adaptation.Methods Using data from population samples in the Canadian Community Health Survey (2007), foreign-born immigrant adolescents (n?=?920) were compared to non-immigrant adolescents (n?=?13,572) for their self-report to questionnaire items for health (general health, mental health, chronic illnesses with psychosomatic symptoms, and psychological illnesses) and adaptation (daily life stress, life satisfaction, and sense of belonging). Adolescents? gender, age, and length of residence were analyzed for the effects.Results Immigrant adolescents were better than non-immigrant peers on the four health measures, and did not differ from non-immigrants for the three adaptation measures despite having less household income and more family members in the household. Immigrant girls exhibited more resilient adaptability, while young immigrant boys and older non-immigrant girls displayed some potential vulnerability. Length of residence, on the other hand, did not contribute to differences for the health and adaptation of immigrant adolescents.Conclusions The healthy immigrant effect was confirmed in a community population sample of adolescents in Canada. Foreign-born immigrant adolescents experience better health, as well as good adaptation equal to their native-born peers. These outcomes call for further research on sustaining good health and adaptation of the immigrant population, in particular by providing age-related effective services and prevention strategies.