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Original article

Vol. 141 No. 1718 (2011)

Are immigrant children admitted to intensive care at increased risk?

  • T Tritschler
  • FH Sennhauser
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2011;141:w13190


BACKGROUND:Racial and ethnic disparities in health care are significant predictors of the quality of health care received. Studies documenting these disparities are largely based on an adult chronic care model. There are only few reports in paediatric populations.

Our objective was to evaluate the severity of illness of immigrants at admission to PICU, the proportion of immigrants in PICU compared to the general population and the quality of care they receive, in order to examine whether there are disparities in health care.

METHODS:Prospectively collected data of 1009 sequential first admissions in 2007 to a multidisciplinary, 19-bed, PICU of a university children’s hospital in Switzerland. The main outcome measures wereexpected mortality, standardised mortality ratio, proportion of immigrants in general population and in PICU.

RESULTS:Children with an immigrant background are overrepresented in PICU compared with their proportion in the general population. Parents of these children are more likely to be in the lowest strata of socio-professional status than parents of Swiss children hospitalised in PICU (relative risk 9.82, 95% CI 5.16 to 18.7). However, the distribution of immigrant children and Swiss children along the strata of illness severity is equal and there is no difference in standardised mortality ratio between these two groups.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that disparities may exist at a lower level of illness severity, due to many possible reasons (for example shortcomings in primary health care). However, once a child enters tertiary health care, nationality and socio-economic factors no longer influence quality of health care delivery.


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