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Open Access Research article

What is the comparative health status and associated risk factors for the Métis? A population-based study in Manitoba, Canada

Patricia J Martens13*, Judith G Bartlett23*, Heather J Prior1, Julianne Sanguins23, Charles A Burchill1, Elaine MJ Burland1 and Sheila Carter2

Author Affiliations

1 Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, 408 - 727 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3E 3P5, Canada

2 Manitoba Metis Federation Health & Wellness Department, 150 Henry Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 0J7, Canada

3 Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, S113 - 750 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3E 0W3, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:814  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-814

Published: 19 October 2011



Métis are descendants of early 17th century relationships between North American Indians and Europeans. This study's objectives were: (1) to compare the health status of the Métis people to all other residents of Manitoba, Canada; and (2) to analyze factors in predicting the likelihood of diabetes and related lower limb amputation.


Using de-identified administrative databases plus the Métis Population Database housed at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, age/sex-adjusted rates of mortality and disease were calculated for Métis (n = 73,016) and all other Manitobans (n = 1,104,672). Diseases included: hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, ischemic heart disease (age 19+); osteoporosis (age 50+); acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and stroke (age 40+); total respiratory morbidity (TRM, all ages). Using logistic regression, predictors of diabetes (2004/05-2006/07) and diabetes-related lower-limb amputations (2002/03-2006/07) were analyzed.


Disease rates were higher for Métis compared to all others: premature mortality before age 75 (4.0 vs. 3.3 per 1000, p < .001); total mortality (9.7 vs. 8.4 per 1000, p < .001); injury mortality (0.58 vs. 0.51 per 1000, p < .03); Potential Years of Life Lost (64.6 vs. 54.6 per 1000, p < .001); all-cause 5-year mortality for people with diabetes (20.8% vs. 18.6%, p < .02); hypertension (27.9% vs. 24.8%, p < .001); arthritis (24.2% vs. 19.9%, p < .001), TRM (13.6% vs. 10.6%, p < .001); diabetes (11.8% vs. 8.8%, p < .001); diabetes-related lower limb amputation (24.1 vs. 16.2 per 1000, p < .001); ischemic heart disease (12.2% vs. 8.7%, p < .001); osteoporosis (12.2% vs. 12.3%, NS), dialysis initiation (0.46% vs. 0.34%, p < .001); AMI (5.4 vs. 4.3 per 1000, p < .001); stroke (3.6 vs. 2.9 per 1000, p < .001). Controlling for geography, age, sex, income, continuity of care and comorbidities, Métis were more likely to have diabetes (aOR = 1.29, 95% CI 1.25-1.34), but not diabetes-related lower limb amputation (aOR = 1.13, 95% CI 0.90-1.40, NS). Continuity of care was associated with decreased risk of amputation both provincially (aOR = 0.71, 95% CI 0.62-0.81) and for Métis alone (aOR = 0.62, 95% CI 0.40-0.96).


Despite universal healthcare, Métis' illness and mortality rates are mostly higher. Although elevated diabetes risk persists for the Métis even after adjusting for sociodemographic, healthcare and comorbidity variables, the risk of amputation for Métis appears more related to healthcare access rather than ethnicity.