To assess the contribution of primary care systems to a variety of health outcomes in 18 wealthy Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries over three decades.
Data Sources/Study Setting
Data were primarily derived from OECD Health Data 2001 and from published literature. The unit of analysis is each of 18 wealthy OECD countries from 1970 to 1998 (total n=504).
Pooled, cross-sectional, time-series analysis of secondary data using fixed effects regression.
Data Collection/Extraction Methods
Secondary analysis of public-use datasets. Primary care system characteristics were assessed using a common set of indicators derived from secondary datasets, published literature, technical documents, and consultation with in-country experts.
The strength of a country's primary care system was negatively associated with (a) all-cause mortality, (b) all-cause premature mortality, and (c) cause-specific premature mortality from asthma and bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia, cardiovascular disease, and heart disease (p<0.05 in fixed effects, multivariate regression analyses). This relationship was significant, albeit reduced in magnitude, even while controlling for macro-level (GDP per capita, total physicians per one thousand population, percent of elderly) and micro-level (average number of ambulatory care visits, per capita income, alcohol and tobacco consumption) determinants of population health.
(1) Strong primary care system and practice characteristics such as geographic regulation, longitudinality, coordination, and community orientation were associated with improved population health. (2) Despite health reform efforts, few OECD countries have improved essential features of their primary care systems as assessed by the scale used here. (3) The proposed scale can also be used to monitor health reform efforts intended to improve primary care.
Primary care; health system assessment; health reform
Objective To assess whether and how the rankings of the world's health systems based on disability adjusted life expectancy as done in the 2000 World Health Report change when using the narrower concept of mortality amenable to health care, an outcome more closely linked to health system performance.
Design Analysis of mortality amenable to health care (including and excluding ischaemic heart disease).
Main outcome measure Age standardised mortality from causes amenable to health care
Setting 19 countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Results Rankings based on mortality amenable to health care (excluding ischaemic heart disease) differed substantially from rankings of health attainment given in the 2000 World Health Report. No country retained the same position. Rankings for southern European countries and Japan, which had performed well in the report, fell sharply, whereas those of the Nordic countries improved. Some middle ranking countries (United Kingdom, Netherlands) also fell considerably; New Zealand improved its position. Rankings changed when ischaemic heart disease was included as amenable to health care.
Conclusion The 2000 World Health Report has been cited widely to support claims for the merits of otherwise different health systems. High levels of health attainment in well performing countries may be a consequence of good fortune in geography, and thus dietary habits, and success in the health effects of policies in other sectors. When assessed in terms of achievements that are more explicitly linked to health care, their performance may not be as good.
Previous studies have reported large socioeconomic inequalities in mortality from conditions amenable to medical intervention, but it is unclear whether these can be attributed to inequalities in access or quality of health care, or to confounding influences such as inequalities in background risk of diseases. We therefore studied whether inequalities in mortality from conditions amenable to medical intervention vary between countries in patterns which differ from those observed for other (non-amenable) causes of death. More specifically, we hypothesized that, as compared to non-amenable causes, inequalities in mortality from amenable causes are more strongly associated with inequalities in health care use and less strongly with inequalities in common risk factors for disease such as smoking.
Cause-specific mortality data for people aged 30–74 years were obtained for 14 countries, and were analysed by calculating age-standardized mortality rates and relative risks comparing a lower with a higher educational group. Survey data on health care use and behavioural risk factors for people aged 30–74 years were obtained for 12 countries, and were analysed by calculating age-and sex-adjusted odds ratios comparing a low with a higher educational group. Patterns of association were explored by calculating correlation coefficients.
In most countries and for most amenable causes of death substantial inequalities in mortality were observed, but inequalities in mortality from amenable causes did not vary between countries in patterns that are different from those seen for inequalities in non-amenable mortality. As compared to non-amenable causes, inequalities in mortality from amenable causes are not more strongly associated with inequalities in health care use. Inequalities in mortality from amenable causes are also not less strongly associated with common risk factors such as smoking.
We did not find evidence that inequalities in mortality from amenable conditions are related to inequalities in access or quality of health care. Further research is needed to find the causes of socio-economic inequalities in mortality from amenable conditions, and caution should be exercised in interpreting these inequalities as indicating health care deficiencies.
“Air pollution and population health” is one of the most important environmental and public health issues. Economic development, urbanization, energy consumption, transportation/motorization, and rapid population growth are major driving forces of air pollution in large cities, especially in megacities. Air pollution levels in developed countries have been decreasing dramatically in recent decades. However, in developing countries and in countries in transition, air pollution levels are still at relatively high levels, though the levels have been gradually decreasing or have remained stable during rapid economic development. In recent years, several hundred epidemiological studies have emerged showing adverse health effects associated with short-term and long-term exposure to air pollutants. Time-series studies conducted in Asian cities also showed similar health effects on mortality associated with exposure to particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3) to those explored in Europe and North America. The World Health Organization (WHO) published the “WHO Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs), Global Update” in 2006. These updated AQGs provide much stricter guidelines for PM, NO2, SO2 and O3. Considering that current air pollution levels are much higher than the WHO-recommended AQGs, interim targets for these four air pollutants are also recommended for member states, especially for developing countries in setting their country-specific air quality standards. In conclusion, ambient air pollution is a health hazard. It is more important in Asian developing countries within the context of pollution level and population density. Improving air quality has substantial, measurable and important public health benefits.
Air pollution; Health effects; Time-series study; Risk assessment; WHO Air Quality Guidelines
Within the socio-ecologic framework, diet and physical activity are influenced by individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and public policy factors. A basic principle underlying this framework is that environments can influence an individual’s behavior. However, in the vast majority of cross-sectional and even the few longitudinal studies of this relationship, the question of whether individuals select their area of residence based on physical activity-related amenities is ignored.
In this paper, we address a critical methodological issue: self-selection of residential location, which is generally not accounted for, and can significantly compromise research on the relationship between environmental factors and physical activity behaviors.
We define and discuss the problem of residential self-selection in the study of neighborhood influences on health and health behavior, review methods used to control for residential self-selection in the literature, and present our strategy for addressing this potentially important source of bias.
Existing research has built our understanding of residential self-selection bias, but important gaps remain. Our strategy uses data from a longitudinal cohort study linked to contemporaneous environmental measures to create a multi-equation model system to simultaneously estimate residential choice, environmental influences on physical activity, and downstream health outcomes such as obesity and clinical cardiovascular disease risk factor measures.
STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim of the study was to review published work reporting mortality from conditions amenable to medical intervention and compare the methods used and the results obtained. SOURCE MATERIAL--Two types of analysis were examined: (1) analyses of time trends, relating decline in mortality from amenable conditions to improvements in medical care (3 papers); (2) analyses of geographical variation, either between or within countries, in which mortality was related to the availability of health care resources and to other factors (8 papers). RESULTS--Time-trend studies have in general shown that mortality from amenable causes has declined faster over the past decades than most other causes of death. Studies of geographical variation have shown that mortality from amenable causes is consistently associated with socioeconomic factors, and that the association with the provision of health care resources is rather weak and inconsistent. CONCLUSIONS--(1) The low levels of mortality from amenable causes which presently prevail in industrialised countries are likely to reflect, at least in part, the increased effectiveness of health services; (2) geographical variation in mortality from amenable causes has not yet been shown to reflect differences in effectiveness of health services; and (3) if geographical variation in avoidable mortality does reflect such differences, they must arise from circumstances other than the level of supply, for example from more specific aspects of health care delivery, and are probably closely related to socioeconomic circumstances. In depth studies at the individual level are now more likely to produce information about factors limiting the effectiveness of health services than further studies of aggregate data.
OBJECTIVE--To investigate comparative national trends in mortality from conditions amenable to timely, appropriate medical care and from those considered not to be amenable to such care. DESIGN--Analysis of trends in direct age standardised mortality from the 1950s to 1987. SETTING--Four eastern European nations (Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, the German Democratic Republic) and two western European (the Federal Republic of Germany and England and Wales) and two North American nations (United States and Canada). SUBJECTS--The total populations of the relevant countries during the period examined. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Proportional changes over time in age standardised mortality. Mortality from amenable and non-amenable causes was restricted to the age group 0-64. RESULTS--A divergence in the trends for all cause mortality between eastern Europe and the western nations occurred in about 1970, when the rates in western countries steadily declined but those in eastern Europe remained fairly static. In the age group 0-64 mortality from causes considered amenable to medical care fell less quickly in eastern Europe than in the West, particularly after 1970. In the same age group, mortality from non-amenable causes rose in eastern European countries from the late 1960s compared with substantial declines in such mortality in the West. CONCLUSIONS--Non-amenable causes of death seem to be the principal, but not exclusive, reason for lack of improvement in trends in all cause mortality in eastern Europe from 1970. The agenda for action in eastern Europe should give priority to a healthier lifestyle and improvement of the environment though not neglect enhancements in the quality and efficiency of direct health services.
Types of available studies relevant to the quantification of air pollution health effects and their principal limitations are discussed. Assessments are provided based on review and re-analysis of previously reported data bases, synthesis of published findings, and original analysis of health data sets using new methods or recent size-specific particle mass measurements. Interim results from ongoing research activities on airborne particle health effects are presented. It is shown that preliminary results obtained from cross-sectional and time-series mortality studies appear to be consistent, indicating that particulate air pollution, even at current levels, could be of concern for public health. Throughout the paper, methodological deficiencies and remaining gaps in knowledge are identified. In particular, uncertainties associated with the reported exposure-response coefficients are assessed. Finally, by characterizing the limitations of analysis we propose various recommendations for future studies and research that will serve to further define the nature, magnitude, and uncertainties of air pollution health risks.
Study objective: To assess the health impacts of local public swimming pool and leisure provision.
Design: Retrospective qualitative study using focus groups. Reports from two areas with contrasting experience of provision of a public swimming pool (opening and closure) were compared within the context of general reports about health and neighbourhood.
Setting: Two deprived neighbourhoods in south Glasgow.
Participants: Local adult residents of mixed ages, accessed through local community groups.
Main results: In both areas the swimming pool was reported as an important amenity that was linked to health and wellbeing. However, few residents reported regular use of the pool for physical activity. Use of the pool facility for social contact was directly linked to reports of relief of stress and isolation, and improved mental health. Pool closure was one in a series of amenity closures and area decline and was used to represent other area changes. Health impacts were strongly linked to the pool closure. The pool opening was associated with local area regeneration, similar but less prominent links between swimming pool provision and health were reported. Health benefits of social contact were diffuse and linked to other local amenities as well as the new pool facility.
Conclusions: Although theoretically linked to increased physical activity, the health benefits conveyed by the swimming pool may be more closely linked to the facilitation of social contact, and a supervised facility for young children. The use of qualitative work to investigate area based change provides rich contextual data to strengthen and explain the reported health impacts.
The project "Assessment and prevention of acute health effects of weather conditions in Europe" (PHEWE) had the aim of assessing the association between weather conditions and acute health effects, during both warm and cold seasons in 16 European cities with widely differing climatic conditions and to provide information for public health policies.
The PHEWE project was a three-year pan-European collaboration between epidemiologists, meteorologists and experts in public health. Meteorological, air pollution and mortality data from 16 cities and hospital admission data from 12 cities were available from 1990 to 2000. The short-term effect on mortality/morbidity was evaluated through city-specific and pooled time series analysis. The interaction between weather and air pollutants was evaluated and health impact assessments were performed to quantify the effect on the different populations. A heat/health watch warning system to predict oppressive weather conditions and alert the population was developed in a subgroup of cities and information on existing prevention policies and of adaptive strategies was gathered.
Main results were presented in a symposium at the conference of the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology in Paris on September 6th 2006 and will be published as scientific articles. The present article introduces the project and includes a description of the database and the framework of the applied methodology.
The PHEWE project offers the opportunity to investigate the relationship between temperature and mortality in 16 European cities, representing a wide range of climatic, socio-demographic and cultural characteristics; the use of a standardized methodology allows for direct comparison between cities.
Objectives: Few published studies have examined the effect of air pollution on upper respiratory conditions. Furthermore, most epidemiological studies on air pollution focus on mortality or hospital admissions as the main health outcomes, but very rarely consider the effect in primary care. If pollution effects do exist then the public health impact could be considerable because of the many patient contacts involved. We investigated the relation between air pollution and upper respiratory disease as reflected in number of consultations made at family practices in London.
Methods: The study used non-parametric methods of analysis of time series data, adjusting for seasonal factors, day of the week, holiday effects, influenza, weather, pollen concentrations, and serial correlation.
Results: It was estimated that a 10–90th percentile change (13–31 µg/m3) in sulphur dioxide (SO2) measures resulted in a small increase in numbers of childhood consultation: 3.5% (95% confidence interval (95% CI 1.4% to 5.8%). Stronger associations were found in the case of a 10–90th percentile change (16–47 µg/m3) in fine particles (PM10) in adults aged 15–64 5.7% (2.9% to 8.6%), and in adults aged 65 and over: 10.2% (5.3% to 15.3%). In general, associations were strongest in elderly people, weakest in the children, and were largely found in the winter months for these two age groups, and in the summer months for adults aged 15–64. An apparent decrease in consultations was associated with ozone concentrations but this was most pronounced in colder months when ozone concentrations were at their lowest.
Conclusions: The results suggest an adverse effect of air pollution on consultations for upper respiratory symptoms, in particular in the case of PM10 and SO2. The effects are relatively small; however, due to the many consultations made in primary care, the impact on demand for services could be considerable.
Objective: To investigate longitudinal and spatial relations between air pollution and age specific mortality for United States counties (except Alaska) from 1960 to the end of 1997.
Methods: Cross sectional regressions for five specific periods using published data on mortality, air quality, demography, climate, socioeconomic status, lifestyle, and diet. Outcome measures are statistical relations between air quality and county mortalities by age group for all causes of death, other than AIDS and trauma.
Results: A specific regression model was developed for each period and age group, using variables that were significant (p<0.05), not substantially collinear (variance inflation factor <2), and had the expected algebraic sign. Models were initially developed without the air pollution variables, which varied in spatial coverage. Residuals were then regressed in turn against current and previous air quality, and dose-response plots were constructed. The validity of this two stage procedure was shown by comparing a subset of results with those obtained with single stage models that included air quality (correlation=0.88). On the basis of attributable risks computed for overall mean concentrations, the strongest associations were found in the earlier periods, with attributable risks usually less than 5%. Stronger relations were found when mortality and air quality were measured in the same period and when the locations considered were limited to those of previous cohort studies (for PM2.5 and SO42-). Thresholds were suggested at 100–130 µg/m3 for mean total suspended particulate (TSP), 7–10 µg/m3 for mean sulfate, 10–15 ppm for peak (95th percentile) CO, 20–40 ppb for mean SO2. Contrary to expectations, associations were often stronger for the younger age groups (<65 y). Responses to PM, CO, and SO2 declined over time; responses in elderly people to peak O3 increased over time as did responses to NO2 for the younger age groups. These results generally agreed with previous prospective cohort and ecological studies for comparable periods, age groups, and pollutants, but they also suggest that the results of those previous studies may no longer be applicable.
Conclusions: Spatially derived relations between air quality and mortality vary significantly by age group and period and may be sensitive to the locations included in the analysis.
Exposure to ambient air pollution is a serious and common public health concern associated with growing morbidity and mortality worldwide. In the last decades, the adverse effects of air pollution on the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems have been well established in a series of major epidemiological and observational studies. In the recent past, air pollution has also been associated with diseases of the central nervous system (CNS), including stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and neurodevelopmental disorders. It has been demonstrated that various components of air pollution, such as nanosized particles, can easily translocate to the CNS where they can activate innate immune responses. Furthermore, systemic inflammation arising from the pulmonary or cardiovascular system can affect CNS health. Despite intense studies on the health effects of ambient air pollution, the underlying molecular mechanisms of susceptibility and disease remain largely elusive. However, emerging evidence suggests that air pollution-induced neuroinflammation, oxidative stress, microglial activation, cerebrovascular dysfunction, and alterations in the blood-brain barrier contribute to CNS pathology. A better understanding of the mediators and mechanisms will enable the development of new strategies to protect individuals at risk and to reduce detrimental effects of air pollution on the nervous system and mental health.
In Western societies, the impact of air pollution on residents' health is higher in less wealthy communities. However, it is not clear whether such an interaction effect applies to developing countries. The authors examine how the level of community development modifies the impact of air pollution on health outcomes of the Chinese elderly using data from the third wave of the Chinese Longitudinal Health Longevity Survey in 2002, which includes 7,358 elderly residents aged 65 or more years from 735 districts in 171 cities. The results show that, compared with a 1-point increase in the air pollution index in urban areas with a low gross domestic product, a similar increase in the air pollution index in areas with a high gross domestic product is associated with more difficulties in activities of daily living (odds ratio = 1.41, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.09, 1.83), instrumental activities of daily living (linear coefficient = 0.98, 95% CI: 0.58, 1.37), and cognitive function (linear coefficient = 2.67, 95% CI: 1.97, 3.36), as well as a higher level of self-rated poor health (odds ratio = 2.20, 95% CI: 1.68, 2.86). Contrary to what has been found in the West, Chinese elderly who live in more developed urban areas are more susceptible to the effect of air pollution than are their counterparts living in less developed areas.
aged; air pollution; China; health; social change
There are substantial geographic variations in coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality rates in England that may in part be due to differences in climate and air pollution. An ecological cross-sectional multi-level analysis of male and female CHD mortality rates in all wards in England (1999–2004) was conducted to estimate the relative strength of the association between CHD mortality rates and three aspects of the physical environment - temperature, hours of sunshine and air quality. Models were adjusted for deprivation, an index measuring the healthiness of the lifestyle of populations, and urbanicity. In the fully adjusted model, air quality was not significantly associated with CHD mortality rates, but temperature and sunshine were both significantly negatively associated (p<0.05), suggesting that CHD mortality rates were higher in areas with lower average temperature and hours of sunshine. After adjustment for the unhealthy lifestyle of populations and deprivation, the climate variables explained at least 15% of large scale variation in CHD mortality rates. The results suggest that the climate has a small but significant independent association with CHD mortality rates in England.
To quantify the effects of informal caregiver availability and public funding on formal long-term care (LTC) expenditures in developed countries.
Data Source/Study Setting
Secondary data were acquired for 15 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries from 1970 to 2000.
Secondary data analysis, applying fixed- and random-effects models to time-series cross-sectional data. Outcome variables are inpatient or home heath LTC expenditures. Key explanatory variables are measures of the availability of informal caregivers, generosity in public funding for formal LTC, and the proportion of the elderly population in the total population.
Data Collection/Extraction Method
Aggregated macro data were obtained from OECD Health Data, United Nations Demographic Yearbooks, and U.S. Census Bureau International Data Base.
Most of the 15 OECD countries experienced growth in LTC expenditures over the study period. The availability of a spouse caregiver, measured by male-to-female ratio among the elderly, is associated with a $28,840 (1995 U.S. dollars) annual reduction in formal LTC expenditure per additional elderly male. Availability of an adult child caregiver, measured by female labor force participation and full-time/part-time status shift, is associated with a reduction of $310 to $3,830 in LTC expenditures. These impacts on LTC expenditure vary across countries and across time within a country.
The availability of an informal caregiver, particularly a spouse caregiver, is among the most important factors explaining variation in LTC expenditure growth. Long-term care policies should take into account behavioral responses: decreased public funding in LTC may lead working women to leave the labor force to provide more informal care.
Long-term care expenditure; spouse caregiver; adult child caregiver; public funding; international comparison
More than two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and African Americans are particularly vulnerable to obesity when compared to Caucasians. Ecological models of health suggest that lower individual and environmental socioeconomic status and the built environment may be related to health attitudes and behaviors that contribute to obesity. This cross-sectional study measured the direct associations of neighborhood physical activity resource attributes with body mass index (BMI) and body fat among low-income 216 African Americans (Mean (M) age = 43.5 years, 63.9% female) residing in 12 public housing developments. The Physical Activity Resource Assessment instrument measured accessibility, incivilities, and the quality of features and amenities of each physical activity resource within an 800-m radius around each housing development. Sidewalk connectivity was measured using the Pedestrian Environment Data Scan instrument. Ecological multivariate regression models analyzed the associations between the built environment attributes and resident BMI and body fat at the neighborhood level. Sidewalk connectivity was associated with BMI (M = 31.3 kg/m2; p < 0.05). Sidewalk connectivity and resource accessibility were associated with body fat percentage (M = 34.8%, p < 0.05). Physical activity resource attributes and neighborhood sidewalk connectivity were related to BMI and body fat among low-income African Americans living in housing developments.
Obesity; Built environment; Physical activity resources (PARs); BMI; Public housing; SES; African Americans
Mortality from causes amenable to health care is a valuable indicator of quality of the health care system, which can be used to assess inter-regional differences and trends over time. This study investigates these mortality rates in Israel over time, and compares inter-regional and international rates in recent years.
Age-adjusted amenable mortality rates have been decreasing steadily in Israel, by 31% for males and 28% for females between 1998–2000 and 2007–2009. Amenable mortality was lower in the center of the country than in the Northern, Southern, and Haifa districts. The proportion of mortality from circulatory diseases was highest in the North and Haifa districts and from cancer in the Tel-Aviv and Central districts. A higher proportion of infectious diseases was seen in the Southern district.
In comparison with amenable mortality rates in 20 European countries, Israel ranked 8th lowest for males and 12th lowest for females, in 2008. The rate was lower than in Britain, Ireland, and Portugal; lower than in Germany, Spain, Austria, and Finland for males; and higher than France, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, and Italy. But Israel ranked higher in the decrease in amenable mortality rates between 2001 and 2007 for females than males in a 19 country comparison. Genitourinary diseases were a larger component in Israel than other countries and circulatory diseases were smaller.
The indicator of amenable mortality shows improvement in health outcomes over the years, but continuing improvement is needed in health care and education, in particular in the periphery of Israel and for females.
Amenable mortality; Regional differences; Causes of death; Periphery; Health services
There is a major gradient in burden of disease between Central and Eastern Europe compared to Western Europe. Many of the underlying causes and risk factors are amenable to public health interventions. The purpose of the study was to explore perceptions of public health experts from Central and Eastern European countries on public health challenges in their countries.
We invited 179 public health experts from Central and Eastern European countries to a 2-day workshop in Berlin, Germany. A total of 25 public health experts from 14 countries participated in May 2008. The workshop was structured into 8 sessions of 1.5 hours each, with the topic areas covering coronary heart disease, stroke, prevention, obesity, alcohol, tobacco, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. The workshop was recorded and the proceedings transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were entered into atlas.ti for content analysis and coded according to the session headings. After analysis of the content of each session discussion, a re-coding of the discussions took place based on the themes that emerged from the analysis.
Themes discussed recurred across disease entities and sessions. Major themes were the relationship between clinical medicine and public health, the need for public health funding, and the problems of proving the effectiveness of disease prevention. Areas for action identified included the need to engage with the public, to create a better scientific basis for public health interventions, to identify “best practices” of disease prevention, and to implement registries/surveillance instruments. The need for improved data collection was seen throughout all areas discussed, as was the need to harmonize data across countries.
To reduce the burden of disease across Europe, closer collaboration of countries across Europe seems important in order to learn from each other. A more credible scientific basis for effective public health interventions is urgently needed. The monitoring of health trends is crucial to evaluate the impact of public health programmes.
Design: The authors used a sequential two stage regression model to control for variables that may influence HCEs and for the possibility of endogenous relations. The analysis relies on cross sectional ecological data from the 49 counties of Ontario.
Main results: The results show that, after control for other variables that may influence health expenditures, both total toxic pollution output and per capita municipal environmental expenditures have significant associations with health expenditures. Counties with higher pollution output tend to have higher per capita HCEs, while those that spend more on defending environmental quality have lower expenditures on health care.
Conclusions: The implications of our findings are twofold. Firstly, sound investments in public health and environmental protection have external benefits in the form of reduced HCEs. Combined with the other benefits such as recreational values, investments in environmental protection probably yield net social benefits. Secondly, health policy that excludes consideration of environmental quality may eventually result in increased expenditures. These results suggest a need to broaden the cost containment debate to ensure environmental determinants of health receive attention as potential complements to conventional cost control policies.
Self-rated health (SRH) is a robust predictor of mortality. In UK, migrants of South Asian descent, compared to native Caucasian populations, have substantially poorer SRH. Despite its validation among migrant South Asian populations and its popularity in developed countries as a useful public health tool, the SRH scale has not been used at a population level in countries in South Asia. We determined the prevalence of and risk factors for poor/fair SRH among individuals aged ≥15 years in Pakistan (n = 9442).
The National Health Survey of Pakistan was a cross-sectional population-based survey, conducted between 1990 and 1994, of 18 135 individuals aged 6 months and above; 9442 of them were aged ≥15 years. Our main outcome was SRH which was assessed using the question: "Would you say your health in general is excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor?" SRH was dichotomized into poor/fair, and good (excellent, very good, or good).
Overall 65.1% respondents – 51.3 % men vs. 77.2 % women – rated their health as poor/fair. We found a significant interaction between sex and age (p < 0.0001). The interaction was due to the gender differences only in the ages 15–19 years, whereas poor/fair SRH at all older ages was more prevalent among women and increased at the same rate as it did among men. We also found province of dwelling, low or middle SES, literacy, rural dwelling and current tobacco use to be independently associated with poor/fair SRH.
This is the first study reporting on poor/fair SRH at a population-level in a South Asian country. The prevalence of poor/fair health in Pakistan, especially amongst women, is one of the worst ever reported, warranting immediate attention. Further research is needed to explain why women in Pakistan have, at all ages, poorer SRH than men.
The literature on health systems focuses largely on the performance of healthcare systems operationalised around indicators such as hospital beds, maternity care and immunisation coverage. A broader definition of health systems however, needs to include the wider determinants of health including, possibly, governance and its relationship to health and health equity. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between health systems outcomes and equity, and governance as a part of a process to extend the range of indicators used to assess health systems performance.
Using cross sectional data from 46 countries in the African region of the World Health Organization, an ecological analysis was conducted to examine the relationship between governance and health systems performance. The data were analysed using multiple linear regression and a standard progressive modelling procedure. The under-five mortality rate (U5MR) was used as the health outcome measure and the ratio of U5MR in the wealthiest and poorest quintiles was used as the measure of health equity. Governance was measured using two contextually relevant indices developed by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
Governance was strongly associated with U5MR and moderately associated with the U5MR quintile ratio. After controlling for possible confounding by healthcare, finance, education, and water and sanitation, governance remained significantly associated with U5MR. Governance was not, however, significantly associated with equity in U5MR outcomes.
This study suggests that the quality of governance may be an important structural determinant of health systems performance, and could be an indicator to be monitored. The association suggests there might be a causal relationship. However, the cross-sectional design, the level of missing data, and the small sample size, forces tentative conclusions. Further research will be needed to assess the causal relationship, and its generalizability beyond U5MR as a health outcome measure, as well as the geographical generalizability of the results.
Medical spending on psychiatric hospitalization has been reported to impose a tremendous socio-economic burden on many developed countries with public health insurance programmes. However, there has been no in-depth study of the factors affecting psychiatric inpatient medical expenditures and differentiated these factors across different types of public health insurance programmes. In view of this, this study attempted to explore factors affecting medical expenditures for psychiatric inpatients between two public health insurance programmes covering the entire South Korean population: National Health Insurance (NHI) and National Medical Care Aid (AID).
This retrospective, cross-sectional study used a nationwide, population-based reimbursement claims dataset consisting of 1,131,346 claims of all 160,465 citizens institutionalized due to psychiatric diagnosis between January 2005 and June 2006 in South Korea. To adjust for possible correlation of patients characteristics within the same medical institution and a non-linearity structure, a Box-Cox transformed, multilevel regression analysis was performed.
Compared with inpatients 19 years old or younger, the medical expenditures of inpatients between 50 and 64 years old were 10% higher among NHI beneficiaries but 40% higher among AID beneficiaries. Males showed higher medical expenditures than did females. Expenditures on inpatients with schizophrenia as compared to expenditures on those with neurotic disorders were 120% higher among NHI beneficiaries but 83% higher among AID beneficiaries. Expenditures on inpatients of psychiatric hospitals were greater on average than expenditures on inpatients of general hospitals. Among AID beneficiaries, institutions owned by private groups treated inpatients with 32% higher costs than did government institutions. Among NHI beneficiaries, inpatients medical expenditures were positively associated with the proportion of patients diagnosed into dementia or schizophrenia categories. However, for AID beneficiaries, inpatient medical expenditures were positively associated with the proportion of all patients with a psychiatric diagnosis that were AID beneficiaries in a medical institution.
This study provides evidence that patient and institutional factors are associated with psychiatric inpatient medical expenditures, and that they may have different effects for beneficiaries of different public health insurance programmes. Policy efforts to reduce psychiatric inpatient medical expenditures should be made differently across the different types of public health insurance programmes.
The growing health risks associated with greenhouse gas emissions highlight the need for new energy policies that emphasize efficiency and low-carbon energy intensity.
We assessed the relationships among electricity use, coal consumption, and health outcomes.
Using time-series data sets from 41 countries with varying development trajectories between 1965 and 2005, we developed an autoregressive model of life expectancy (LE) and infant mortality (IM) based on electricity consumption, coal consumption, and previous year’s LE or IM. Prediction of health impacts from the Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) integrated air pollution emissions health impact model for coal-fired power plants was compared with the time-series model results.
The time-series model predicted that increased electricity consumption was associated with reduced IM for countries that started with relatively high IM (> 100/1,000 live births) and low LE (< 57 years) in 1965, whereas LE was not significantly associated with electricity consumption regardless of IM and LE in 1965. Increasing coal consumption was associated with increased IM and reduced LE after accounting for electricity consumption. These results are consistent with results based on the GAINS model and previously published estimates of disease burdens attributable to energy-related environmental factors, including indoor and outdoor air pollution and water and sanitation.
Increased electricity consumption in countries with IM < 100/1,000 live births does not lead to greater health benefits, whereas coal consumption has significant detrimental health impacts.
air pollution; climate change; coal; electricity; energy policy; global health; health impact modeling; infant mortality; life expectancy; time series
'Caring for Country' is defined as Indigenous participation in interrelated activities with the objective of promoting ecological and human health. Ecological services on Indigenous-owned lands are belatedly attracting some institutional investment. However, the health outcomes associated with Indigenous participation in 'caring for country' activities have never been investigated. The aims of this study were to pilot and validate a questionnaire measuring caring for country as an Indigenous health determinant and to relate it to an external reference, obesity.
Purposively sampled participants were 301 Indigenous adults aged 15 to 54 years, recruited during a cross-sectional program of preventive health checks in a remote Australian community. Questionnaire validation was undertaken with psychometric tests of internal consistency, reliability, exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory one-factor congeneric modelling. Accurate item weightings were derived from the model and used to create a single weighted composite score for caring for country. Multiple linear regression modelling was used to test associations between the caring for country score and body mass index adjusting for socio-demographic factors and health behaviours.
The questionnaire demonstrated adequate internal consistency, test-retest validity and proxy-respondent validity. Exploratory factor analysis of the 'caring for country' items produced a single factor solution that was confirmed via one-factor congeneric modelling. A significant and substantial association between greater participation in caring for country activities and lower body mass index was demonstrated. Adjusting for socio-demographic factors and health behaviours, an inter-quartile range rise in caring for country scores was associated with 6.1 Kg and 5.3 Kg less body weight for non-pregnant women and men respectively.
This study indicates preliminary support for the validity of the caring for country concept and a questionnaire designed to measure it. This study also highlights the importance of investigating Indigenous-asserted health promotion activities. Further studies in similar populations are merited to test the generalisability of this questionnaire and to explore associations with other important Indigenous health outcomes.