How are new refugees doing in Canada? Comparison of the health and settlement of the Kosovars and Czech Roma.
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BACKGROUND: In 1999, a group of Kosovars arrived in Hamilton, Ontario, with a coordinated international pre-migration plan, as part of the United Nations Humanitarian Evacuation Program. Since 1997, a substantial number of Roma refugees from the Czech Republic also arrived in Hamilton, with no special pre-migration planning. This study examined whether the organized settlement efforts led to better adaptation and perceived health for the Kosovars, using the Czech Roma as a comparison group. METHODS: Adult members of 50 Kosovar (n=157 individuals) and 50 Czech Roma (n=76 individuals) randomly selected families completed a questionnaire on sociodemographics, health, well-being, and perceived adaptation to Canada. Differences between groups were examined using univariate and multivariate analyses. Comparison was made to the Ontario population where possible. RESULTS: There were more Kosovars than Czech Roma over the age of 50 (22.1% vs 10.5%, p=0.03). Nearly one quarter (21.7%) of the Kosovars had a score indicating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ), compared to none of the Roma (p<0.001). After adjustment for age and PTSD, the Kosovars were significantly more likely to report fair or poor adaptation to Canada (OR=10.5, 95% CI=3.6-31.2) and that life is somewhat or very stressful (OR=3.9, 95% CI=2.1-7.4). Differences for other measures were no longer significant after adjustment. CONCLUSIONS: The health and adaptation of the Kosovars was not better than that of the Czech Roma. Reasons for this finding may include differences in demographics, the presence of PTSD, and differing length of time since arrival in Canada.
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