Examination of health behaviours in a dynamic population

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Abstract

Background

An increasing USA population, especially as a result of foreign immigration, has been the recent focus of healthcare research and policy debate. However, little is known about domestic immigration and its impact on the measures of health conditions and behaviours used to develop and evaluate public health policies and programmes. The objective of this research is to compare health conditions and behaviours between domestic immigrants and established residents in Nevada, the fastest-growing state in the USA.

Methods

The Nevada 2004–2006 Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance Survey and added state residency questions were used to examine the associations between length of residence and 24 explanatory variables on health behaviours and conditions. Weighted multiple logistic regressions were used for data analyses.

Results

Among the 8663 respondents weighted to the total Nevada population, long-term residents (5 to <10 years), compared with newcomers or short-term residents, were more likely to report fair or poor health (OR=1.98, 95% CI 1.15 to 3.40) and obesity (OR=2.18, 95% CI 1.10 to 4.32), and to live with firearms in the home (OR=6.34, 95% CI 1.75 to 22.9). They were less likely to report having diabetes (OR=0.49, 95% CI 0.25 to 0.96), having had an HIV test (OR=0.60 95% CI 0.41 to 0.89), having prostate cancer (OR=0.20 95% CI 0.04 to 0.93) or having had a mammogram (OR=0.41, 95% CI 0.25 to 0.70).

Conclusions

Long-term residents, compared with newcomers, provide a unique comparison group that share the same physical and policy environment but in different time periods. Knowledge of differences such as these can improve the specificity in identifying target groups for particular interventions.

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