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CJEM. 2016 Nov;18(6):420-428. Epub 2016 May 16.

Emergency Department Visits after Diagnosed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in Aboriginal People in Alberta, Canada.

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*School of Public Health University of Alberta,Edmonton,AB.
Alberta Health Services,Edmonton,AB.
¶Faculty of Health Sciences,Simon Fraser University,Vancouver,BC.



This retrospective cohort study compared rates of emergency department (ED) visits after a diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the three Aboriginal groups (Registered First Nations, Métis and Inuit) relative to a non-Aboriginal cohort.


We linked eight years of administrative health data from Alberta and calculated age- and sex-standardized ED visit rates in cohorts of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal individuals diagnosed with COPD. Rate ratios (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated in a Poisson regression model that adjusted for important sociodemographic factors and comorbidities. Differences in ED length of stay (LOS) and disposition status were also evaluated.


A total of 2,274 Aboriginal people and 1,611 non-Aboriginals were newly diagnosed with COPD during the study period. After adjusting for important sociodemographic and clinical factors, the rate of all-cause ED visits in all Aboriginal people (RR=1.72, 95% CI: 1.67, 1.77), particularly among Registered First Nations people (RR=2.02; 95% CI: 1.97, 2.08) and Inuit (RR=1.28; 95% CI: 1.22, 1.35), were significantly higher than that in non-Aboriginals, while ED visit rates were significantly lower in the Métis (RR=0.94; 95% CI: 0.90, 0.98). The ED LOS in all Aboriginal groups were significantly lower than that of the non-Aboriginal group.


Aboriginal people with COPD use almost twice the amount of ED services compared to their non-Aboriginal counterparts. There are also important variations in patterns of ED services use among different Aboriginal groups with COPD in Alberta.


Aboriginal people; COPD; Emergency Visits

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