Increased influenza-related healthcare utilization by residents of an urban aboriginal community

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Most studies describing high rates of acute respiratory illness in aboriginals have focused on rural or remote communities. Hypothesized causes include socioeconomic deprivation, limited access to healthcare, and a high prevalence of chronic disease. To assess influenza rates in an aboriginal community while accounting for healthcare access, deprivation and chronic disease prevalence, we compared rates of influenza-related outpatient and emergency-department visits in an urban Mohawk reserve (Kahnawá:ke) to rates in neighbouring regions with comparable living conditions and then restricted the analysis to a sub-population with a low chronic disease prevalence, i.e. those aged <20 years. Using medical billing claims from 1996 to 2006 we estimated age-sex standardized rate ratios. The rate in Kahnawá:ke was 58% greater than neighbouring regions and 98% greater in the analysis of those aged <20 years. Despite relatively favourable socioeconomic conditions and healthcare access, rates of influenza-related visits in Kahnawá:ke were elevated, particularly in the younger age groups.

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