First-of-its kind study examines use of health services by newcomers to Ontario with intellectual and developmental disabilities

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First-of-its kind study examines use of health services by newcomers to Ontario with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Toronto, June 25, 2019

By Anna Wassermann

Dr. Anna Durbin
Dr. Anna Durbin

A first-of-its kind study compared newcomers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to newcomers without IDD. Led by a St. Michael’s Hospital researcher, the study found that in Ontario, newcomers with IDD were significantly more likely to have frequent emergency department visits and hospitalizations in adulthood.

The study, carried out at ICES and part of the Health Care Access Research and Developmental Disabilities program, also found that newcomers with IDD had a higher prevalence of comorbid physical and psychiatric health disorders than newcomers without IDD.

Dr. Anna Durbin, lead author and a scientist in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s, said that, “Additional health and disability supports available to newcomers with IDD and their families upon arrival could address their health issues earlier, minimizing the costs and stress.” The team also examined the prevalence of IDD among newcomers and non-newcomers in Ontario and found that the prevalence of IDD was higher among non-newcomers in Ontario.

“Despite the policy debates and media attention on this issue in several countries, the absence of knowledge about the size of the population of newcomers with IDD and their demographic or health-care use profiles has historically impeded the development of policies to support this group,” said Dr. Durbin.

Moving forward, Dr. Durbin says that additional research is needed to how health care and social services can better meet the needs of newcomers with IDD, and to explore the reasons for discrepancies in IDD prevalence between newcomers and non-newcomers.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About Unity Health Toronto

Unity Health Toronto, comprised of Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital, works to advance the health of everyone in our urban communities and beyond. Our health network serves patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education. For more information, visit

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