Many women from visible minority groups say they have difficulty getting a primary-care physician or specialists to address urgent health concerns or to monitor chronic medical conditions, a study has found.

The report shows one in three South Asian, West Asian and Arab women — who together comprise one of the fastest-growing segments of Canada’s population — have trouble finding a doctor, getting an appointment or getting referred to specialists.

The study by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and the Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences found this minority group, and other immigrant women and men, are at a significant disadvantage compared to Canadian-born individuals.

The report, released today, is part of the larger POWER (Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based Report) study. The researchers say it is the first to provide a comprehensive overview of women’s health in relation to gender, income, education, ethnicity and geography.

The study found that 15 per cent of immigrants living in Canada less than five years did not have a primary-care doctor, compared to 7.3 per cent of Canadian-born adults.

Furthermore, almost one-third of women who did not often speak English or French at home reported more difficulties accessing care from a family doctor to monitor health problems. That compares to less than 20 per cent of women who speak English or French.