Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name



Social Work


Health Disparities;Hispanic Health Paradox;Hispanics;Latin Americans;Mental Health;Social Epidemiology


Kevin Gorey



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


The United States (US) has an extensive body of literature on racial health disparities, highlighting the significant impact of race as a social determinant of health. There is a limited amount of research on health inequalities in Canada. Of particular interest is the Latin American population, one of the fastest growing ethnic minority groups in Canada and the US. Literature on Latin American health and mental health indicates significant advantages in diverse morbidity and overall mortality, despite significant risk factors associated with lower socioeconomic status, low educational attainment, and discrimination. The Hispanic Health Paradox (HHP) suggests that Latin Americans and their culture may possess certain protective factors that mitigate the negative impact of lower socioeconomic status on health and mental health (Markides, 1983). This dissertation aims to examine the existence of the HHP in a Canadian sample using secondary data from four cycles of the Canadian Community Health Survey (2015 to 2018). Two hypotheses were tested 1) The HHP will appear in Latin Americans in Canada as demonstrated by their equal to or better than expected health and mental health outcomes and by lower health care utilization compared to non-Latin American whites (NLAW) and other racialized groups across ten outcomes: self-rated health, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, self-rated mental health, anxiety disorder, mood disorder, health care including mental health care utilization; 2) Latin American ethnicity will interact with gender, age, income, education, and immigration to potentiate the protections afforded men, older individuals, those with low incomes, those with low education, and those who have most recently emigrated to Canada. These were systematically replicated across the same 10 measures listed under Hypothesis 1. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted with the following samples: Latin Americans (1,799), NLAW (168,225), and other racialized groups (33,730). Results found that the first hypothesis was supported across all ten outcomes meaning that Latin Americans had equal or better than expected odds of health, mental health, and health care compared to NLAW. This was also true in most outcomes when compared to other racialized groups. Much supportive evidence was also found regarding important interactions across all ten outcomes, indicating that Latin Americans are not a homogenous people. Of the 50 interactions tested, 35 were statistically significant, 33 providing at least some evidence in the hypothesized direction, and of these 12 provided strong, unequivocal support. The strongest and most significant support for the Latin American health paradox in Canada was found among those who most recently emigrated to Canada and among those with relatively low incomes. The results from the present study can be used to expand our current knowledge of Latin American health, mental health, and health care utilization beyond the US. Moreover, it can be used to improve our understanding of the inter and intragroup differences of Latin American people—one of the fastest growing minority groups in North America. The findings of this study can contribute to our understanding of Latin American health, mental health, and healthcare utilization in Canada and beyond. These results may also help us better understand the diversity within the Latin American population, which is one of the fastest growing minority groups in North America. As social workers are increasingly responsible for providing services to a diverse population, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of the unique challenges and strengths of different groups. Further, with the increased demand of providing empirically supported services to a growing diverse population, this field’s competency will remain limited as long as knowledge and intervention methods rely solely on research done with the mainstream groups and cultures. Thus, this study highlights the importance of expanding our knowledge and intervention methods beyond the mainstream culture to better serve minority populations.

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