Objectives: This study assesses the accessibility of health care services by immigrants and other ethnic/cultural groups in Ontario, using the 1990 Ontario Health Survey.
Methods: The population sample of 38,519 adults aged 16-64 is weighted to represent the entire non-institutionalized population of the province. Outcome measures were whether the study participants visited a general practitioner's office, a specialist's office, or a hospital's emergency department during the past 12 months.
Results: The results showed that while the percentages of participants who ever visited a general practitioner's office during the past 12 months were slightly higher in immigrants and other ethnic/cultural groups, the rates of visits to the specialist's office were quite similar, and the rates of hospital emergency department's visits were often lower (except for aboriginals), than for Canadians. These differences in the utilization of health services across different immigrant and ethnic/cultural groups remained unchanged after controlling for health status (as measured by self-reported health problems) and age differences. However, because the sample sizes in some immigrant and ethnic/cultural groups were small, many of the differences were not statistically significant.
Conclusions: We conclude that while immigrants and other ethnic/cultural groups in Ontario usually had equal access to regular services (e.g., visits to general practitioner's office), they often had lower utilization of hospital emergency departments. However, general purpose surveys have limited utility in assessing reasons of health care utilization amongst different ethnic/cultural groups.