Cindy-Lee Dennis, PhD


Research Focus 3: Examining the Health of Immigrant Mothers and Infants

Brief Overview of Clinical Problem

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, approximately 5 million people, or 18% of the Canadian population, were foreign-born, increasing to 43.7% in Toronto. Immigration patterns also indicate that 48.7% of all recent immigrants settled in Toronto, rendering it the fastest-growing multicultural city in Canada. Given that 64.2% of the recently immigrated female population is between 15 to 44 years of age, a significant number of immigrant women are in their childbearing years and will require perinatal health care.

This is a noteworthy concern considering a recent report by Health Canada suggests that immigrant and racial minority women will experience many health care issues including: (1) differences in cultural belief systems and practices that produce serious barriers in understanding, gaining access to, and interacting with the health care system; (2) a lack of access to culturally-appropriate health care services; and (3) compromised mental health due to stigmatization, socio-economic status, racism, and marginalization. These findings suggest that in our ever-growing multicultural society, there is a critical need for health professionals to provide care that is not only culturally appropriate but also promotes equal access to health care.