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Eur J Epidemiol. 2010 Sep;25(9):651-60. doi: 10.1007/s10654-010-9468-y. Epub 2010 Jun 23.

Utilization and effectiveness of medical rehabilitation in foreign nationals residing in Germany.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology & International Public Health, University of Bielefeld, Germany.


In Germany, the proportion of foreign national residents receiving an invalidity pension is higher than that of Germans. Lower utilization and effectiveness of medical rehabilitation are presumed to be the main reasons. We aimed to examine whether differences in utilization and effectiveness of medical rehabilitation between Germans and foreign nationals are attributable to differences in socio-demography, socio-economic background and health status. Utilization of rehabilitation was analyzed for household members aged 18 years or above enrolled in the German Socio-Economic Panel in 2002-2004 (n = 19,521). Effectiveness of rehabilitation was defined by the occupational performance at the end of rehabilitation. It was examined by using an 80% random sample of all completed medical rehabilitations in the year 2006 funded by the German Statutory Pension Insurance Scheme (n = 634,529). Our study shows that foreign nationals utilize medical rehabilitation less often than Germans (OR = 0.68; 95%-CI = 0.50; 0.91). For those who do, medical rehabilitation is less effective (OR for low occupational performance = 1.50; 95%-CI = 1.46; 1.55). Both findings are only partially attributable to socio-demographic, socio-economic and health characteristics: After adjusting for these factors, ORs for utilization and low occupational performance were 0.66 (95%-CI = 0.49; 0.90) and 1.20 (95%-CI = 1.16; 1.24), respectively. It can be concluded that differences in the utilization and effectiveness of medical rehabilitation between Germans and foreign nationals cannot be explained only by socio-economic differences or poorer health before rehabilitation. In addition, factors such as the ability of the rehabilitative care system to accommodate clients with differing expectations, and migrant-specific characteristics such as cultural differences, seem to play a role.

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