Compounding Disadvantage: Impact of COVID‑19 among Immigrants living with Cancers and with Mental Health & Addictions Disorders in Ontario

Vahabi, Mandana | $426,640

Ontario Ryerson University 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

The COVID‑19 pandemic has jeopardized Canadians’ physical and mental health. Immigrants in Canada bear a disproportionate burden of the pandemic. Research shows that more than half of COVID‑19 cases in Ontario are among immigrants even though they only comprise a quarter of the population. There are more COVID‑19 cases in areas where residents are recent immigrants, living in poverty and unemployed. In addition, immigrants with chronic illnesses also have a higher risk of getting infected and becoming very sick with COVID-19. Among people with chronic illness, those living with cancer or mental health and addiction (MH&A) are also at a higher risk of COVID‑19 and worse outcomes. Cancers and cancer treatments weaken the body’s immune system, and people with pre-existing MH&A problems experience barriers to health services. Immigrants who have either of these conditions may be at especially high risk of contracting and/or dying from COVID-19. However, there is a lack of research on the risk for these affected groups. Understanding the impact of COVID‑19 on immigrants living with these high-risk conditions is critical to develop effective responses to the pandemic. Our study aims to determine 1) if immigrants with a) active cancers or b) MH&A are at higher risk/likelihood of COVID‑19 vaccination, diagnosis, hospitalizations, ICU admissions and mortality than non-immigrants with the same conditions, and immigrants and non-immigrants without the same conditions; 2) the role that other sociodemographic and healthcare-related variables play in COVID‑19 diagnosis for immigrants with a) active cancers and b) MH&A; and 3) which knowledge translation strategies can promote access to health services during current and future crisis, through Think Tanks with affected communities, service providers and decision makers. Our research team consists of well-recognized researchers and knowledge users in the fields of mental health, cancer, health equity, and primary care.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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