Background: A mass influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union to western countries and Israel followed the demise of the Soviet Bloc at the beginning of the 1990s. It was expected that these immigrants would have a higher morbidity and mortality rate similar to that in the former USSR.
Objectives: To measure and compare self-reported diseases, subjective health and health services utilization of a representative sample of veteran Israeli Jews and immigrants from the former USSR.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of Israeli adults was performed by telephone interviews. The survey included 793 Israeli Jews, of whom 124 were immigrants from the former USSR who arrived in Israel after 1989 (response rate 52%).
Results: The immigrants reported a higher rate of diseases and sub-optimal health after adjustment for other variables. However, no excess in health services utilization was reported. A time trend of reporting sub-optimal subjective health was observed: the longer the immigrants spent in Israel the more their reporting patterns resembled those of immigrants who arrived in Israel before 1970. Those who arrived after 1994 more frequently reported having a chronic disease.
Conclusions: Acculturation seems to have been the main effect on the immigrants' health, together with a healthy migrant effect at the beginning of the 1990s. The immigrants' health was worse in the later years of the immigration wave, partially reflecting the poor state of health in the former Soviet Union compared to Israel.