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Open Access Analytic perspective

Hospitalisation among immigrants in Italy

Laura Cacciani1*, Giovanni Baglio1, Lorenza Rossi1, Enrico Materia1, Maurizio Marceca1, Salvatore Geraci2, Angela Spinelli1, John Osborn3 and Gabriella Guasticchi1

Author Affiliations

1 Agency for Public Health of Lazio Region, Rome, Italy

2 Caritas Diocesana of Rome, Rome, Italy

3 Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Rome "La Sapienza", Rome, Italy

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Emerging Themes in Epidemiology 2006, 3:4  doi:10.1186/1742-7622-3-4

Published: 11 May 2006

Abstract

Background

Immigration is increasing in Italy. In 2003, 2.6 million foreign citizens lived in the country; 52% were men and the majority were young adults who migrated for work. The purpose of this study was to investigate differences in hospitalisation between immigrants and the resident population during the year 2000 in the Lazio region.

Methods

Hospital admissions of immigrants from Less Developed Countries were compared to those of residents. We measured differences in hospitalisation rates and proportions admitted.

Results

Adult immigrants have lower hospitalisation rates than residents (134.6 vs. 160.5 per thousand population for acute care; 26.4 vs. 38.3 for day care). However, hospitalisation rates for some specific causes (injuries, particularly for men, infectious diseases, deliveries and induced abortions, ill-defined conditions) were higher for immigrants than for residents. Immigrants under 18 years seem to be generally healthy; causes of admission in this group are similar to those of residents of the same age (respiratory diseases, injuries and poisoning). The only important differences are for infectious and parasitic diseases, with a higher proportion among immigrant youths.

Conclusion

The low hospitalisation rates for foreigners may suggest that they are a population with good health status. However, critical areas, related to poor living and working conditions and to social vulnerability, have been identified. Under-utilisation of services and low day care rates may be partially due to administrative, linguistic, and cultural barriers. As the presence of foreigners becomes an established phenomenon, it is important to evaluate their epidemiological profile, develop instruments to monitor and fulfil their specific health needs and plan health services for a multi-ethnic population.