Introduction: We investigated ethnic and geographic variations in major chronic diseases and risk factors in northern Canada, an area that is undergoing rapid changes in its social, cultural, and physical environments.
Methods: Self-report data were obtained from the population-based Canadian Community Health Survey in 2000-2001 and 2005-2006 for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal respondents from the 3 regions of northern Canada: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Crude prevalence estimates, adjusted odds ratios (AORs), and confidence intervals were calculated for multiple chronic diseases and risk factors.
Results: The percentage of Aboriginal respondents who reported having any chronic health condition increased between the 2 cycles of data collection, but did not change for non-Aboriginal respondents. AORs for heart disease, arthritis, and asthma varied by ethnicity or region. AORs for overweight, obesity, daily smoking, regular and binge drinking, and infrequent physical/leisure activity were also substantially different for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal respondents or among respondents from the 3 northern regions.
Conclusion: The changing profile of health in northern Canada suggests a need for action on health policy about the delivery of community-based primary prevention interventions and further research about the determinants of health and health care use.