Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Immigration and the risk of multiple sclerosis

Principal Investigator: Dr. Dalia Rotstein

Affiliation: University of Toronto

Term: April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2019

Funding: $156,040

Keywords: Immigration, epidemiology, comorbidity, socioeconomic status

Summary:

  • Canada is known to have one of the highest multiple sclerosis (MS) rates in the world and while the risk of developing MS is lower in immigrants, it is still higher than in their native countries.
  • It remains unknown why the Canadian environment may pose higher risk to develop MS.
  • The research team will:
    • Identify the risk of developing MS in immigrants in Ontario tothat in the Canadian-born population and compare this information to the risk of developing MS in their countries of origin.
    • Look at health care utilization and health outcomes to help identify any gaps in access to care or treatment that exist for immigrants with MS.

Project Description:

Studying rates of MS amongst immigrants to Canada can help to understand why Canada is one of the regions at higher risk for MS in the world. Immigrants are thought to be at lower risk for developing MS than people born in Canada, but their risk is still believed to be higher than that in their native countries. The awareness that being in the Canadian environment may pose an MS risk can encourage increased efforts towards prevention, such as through vitamin D supplements. Looking at health care utilization and health outcomes will help identify any gaps in access to care or treatments that exist for immigrants with MS. In this study, Dr. Dalia Rotstein’s work, which will study the risk of developing MS amongst immigrants in Ontario, may lead to the creation of the largest and most diverse cohort of immigrants with MS. Administrative data will be used to understand how access to health resources for immigrants with MS compares to access for Canadian-born individuals with MS. Specifically, it will allow the research team to compare between socio-demographic factors such as age, sex and where people live to health outcomes such as the presence of disease or mortality and health care utilization in a cohort of immigrants. These findings will allow health professionals to tailor their care to the unique needs of the immigrant population with MS, while also providing important insights into risk factors for MS in general.

Potential Impact: The study will provide a better understanding of MS risk factors and access to relevant health resources amongst immigrants to deliver quality health care for people with MS in Canada.

Project Status: In Progress