The structural funds are used to promote economic development as part of European Union Cohesion Policy. Previously the main beneficiary countries were in southern Europe and on the periphery. For 2007–13, the funds are being increased, and directed towards the EU’s new Member States. The Commission has been working with national health ministries, and regions, to develop expertise in applications and implementation. Fields suitable in the next phase, from 2014 onwards, include social and health care for elderly people and public health research systems. Public health practitioners and academics have relevant skills and advice to provide.
Background: Understanding the patterns of mammography use is essential to promote the participation in breast cancer screening. Objectives: To describe the patterns of screening mammography use in Portugal. Methods: As part of the fourth National Health Survey (2005/2006), 3045 women were evaluated in face-to-face interviews. The previous use of mammography for screening was classified as never or ever, and the latter was further grouped according to the time elapsed since the latest mammography. Having undergone the latest mammography >2 years before was considered underuse. We assessed the determinants of never having been screened by mammography and, among those who had been tested, the determinants of mammography underuse, through age- and education-adjusted odds ratios (ORs), with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs). Results: Among women aged 45–49 and 50–69 years, 86.3% and 88.0%, respectively, underwent a screening mammography before, and most of them were tested in the previous 2 years. The lowest risk of never having been screened was in Norte (OR = 0.41, 95% CI: 0.21–0.80) and the highest in Açores (OR = 4.04, 95% CI: 2.37–6.92), in comparison with Centro (the region with organized screening for a longer time). Participants with <4 years of formal education were more likely to have never been screened than the more educated (OR = 4.27, 95% CI: 1.67–10.89). Women with private health insurance (OR = 0.16, 95% CI: 0.04–0.65), as well as those who had undergone cervical cytology screening before (OR = 0.50, 95% CI: 0.30–0.85), had a lower risk of underuse. Conclusions: This study provides useful information to improve the allocation of resources to breast cancer screening.
Background: Nutrition labels are a potentially valuable tool to assist consumers in making healthy food choices. Front-of-pack labels are a relatively new format and are now widely used across many European countries, but it is unclear which of the many formats in use are best understood by consumers. It is also unclear whether the existence of multiple formats impedes understanding and use. This article addresses this question with findings from a study commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency to provide evidence to inform policy decisions in this area. Methods: In-depth qualitative interviews were used to explore consumers’ decision-making processes when using two different front-of-pack label formats to judge the relative healthiness of a pair of products. Participants were presented with product pairs differently labelled and a series of structured prompts were used to access their internal dialogues and to identify any difficulties encountered. Results: The interviews revealed that making product comparisons using different label formats was challenging for participants and particularly for those product pairs where there was not an obvious answer. When the label formats on the product pairs lacked a common element, such as text, this also caused difficulties and misinterpretation. The comparisons also took time and effort that would be a deterrent in real-life situations. Conclusions: These findings indicate that the existence of multiple front-of-pack label formats in the marketplace may impede consumer comprehension and discourage use. They suggest that a single format may encourage consumers to use front-of-pack labels in making healthy food choices.
Background: Studies on trends in the self-rated health (SRH) of older people have shown conflicting results, which might partly be explained by changing associations between SRH and indicators of other health dimensions over time. Therefore, this study investigates 17-year time trends in older adults’ poor SRH, in the context of trends in chronic diseases and disability, between 1992 and 2009. Methods: Data originate from six measurement waves of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (N = 4009, ages 60–85 years). SRH was assessed with the question ‘How is your health in general?’ The presence of lung disease, cardiac disease, peripheral arterial disease, diabetes mellitus, stroke, arthritis and cancer was assessed by self-report. Two severity levels of disability were assessed with six questions on physical functioning. Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) analysis was applied to assess statistical significance in each time trend. Results: There was a stable trend in the prevalence of poor SRH and severe disability, while the mean number of chronic diseases (1.3–1.8) and the prevalence of mild disability (20.5–32.1%) increased between 1992 and 2009. The association between poor SRH and chronic diseases became weaker, whereas the association between poor SRH and severe disability became stronger over time. Most unfavourable trends were observed in the older old and the lower educated. Conclusion: Our results suggest that the seeming stability of poor SRH hides underlying increases in chronic diseases and disability: over time, people may attach importance to different aspects of health when rating their overall health.
Background: Regarding children aged ≤10 years, only a few international studies were conducted to determine the prevalence of and risk factors for back pain. Although other studies on the older Portuguese children point to prevalence between 17% and 39%, none exists for this specific age-group. Thus, the aim of this study was conducted to establish the prevalence of and risk factors for back pain in schoolchildren aged 7–10 years. Methods: A cross-sectional survey among 637 children was conducted. A self-rating questionnaire was used to verify prevalence and duration of back pain, life habits, school absence, medical treatments or limitation of activities. For posture assessment, photographic records with a bio-photogrammetric analysis were used to obtain data about head, acromion and pelvic alignment, horizontal alignment of the scapulae, vertical alignment of the trunk and vertical body alignment. Results: Postural problems were found in 25.4% of the children, especially in the 8- and 9-year-old groups. Back pain occurs in 12.7% with the highest values among the 7- and 10-year-old children. The probability of back pain increased 7 times when the children presented a history of school absences, 4.3 times when they experienced sleeping difficulties, 4.4 times when school furniture was uncomfortable, 4.7 times if the children perceived an occurrence of parental back pain and 2.5 times when children presented incorrect posture. Conclusions: The combination of school absences, parental pain, sleeping difficulties, inappropriate school furniture and postural deviations at the sagittal and frontal planes seem to prove the multifactorial aetiology of back pain.
Background: There is substantial evidence that health and health-care experiences vary along ethnic lines and the need to understand and tackle ethnic health inequalities has repeatedly been highlighted. Research into ethnicity and health raises ethical, theoretical and methodological issues and, as the volume of research in this area grows, so too do concerns regarding its scientific rigour and reporting, and its contribution to reducing inequalities. Guidance may be helpful in encouraging researchers to adopt standard practices in the design, conduct and reporting of research. However, past efforts at introducing such guidance have had limited impact on research practice, and the diversity of disciplinary perspectives on the key challenges and solutions may undermine attempts to derive and promote guiding principles. Methods: A consensus building Delphi exercise—the first of its kind in this area of research practice—was undertaken with leading academics, practitioners and policymakers from a broad range of disciplinary backgrounds to assess whether consensus on key principles could be achieved. Results: Ten key principles for conducting research on ethnicity and health emerged, covering: the aims of research in this field; how such research should be framed and focused; key design-related considerations; and the direction of future research. Despite some areas of dispute, participants were united by a common concern that the generation and application of research evidence should contribute to better health-care experiences and health outcomes for minority ethnic people. Conclusion: The principles provide a strong foundation to guide future ethnicity-related research and build a broader international consensus.
We explore the impact of the 2010 World Cup, held in South Africa, on levels of assault attendances to 15 emergency departments in England. The majority (70.1%) of assault attendees during the 2010 World Cup was male and aged 18–34 years (52.5%). Assault attendances increased by 37.5% on the days that England played (P < 0.01). Preparation for major sporting events in non-host countries should include violence prevention activity. Emergency department data can be used to identify violence associated with such events and thus inform both the targeting of prevention efforts and assessments of their effectiveness.
Caesarean section rates are rising across Europe, and concerns exist that increases are not clinically indicated. Societal, cultural and health system factors have been identified as influential. Former communist (transition) countries have experienced radical changes in these potential determinants, and we, therefore, hypothesized they may exhibit differing trends to non-transition countries. By analysing data from the WHO Europe Health for All Database, we find transition countries had a relatively low caesarean section rate in 2000 but have since experienced more rapid increases than other countries (average annual percentage change 7.9 vs. 2.4).
Background: Avoidable hospitalization (AH) has been widely studied as a possible measure of the performance of primary health care (PHC). However, studies examining the relationship between the efficiency and quality of PHC and AH have found mixed results. Our study aims at highlighting those factors related to the relationship between AH and accessibility to PHC in different countries. Methods: We conducted a systematic search for peer-reviewed studies published between 1990 and October 2010 in English, German, French, Italian or Spanish and indexed primary electronic databases. Results: The final analysis was conducted on the basis of 51 papers. Of them, 72.5% revealed a significant inverse association between the indicator of PHC accessibility and rates of AH. Indicators of PHC calculated at individual level are more likely to reveal contradictory aspects of the relationship between rates of AH and indicators of quality and PHC accessibility. Conclusions: Most studies confirmed the expected relationship between indicators of PHC accessibility and hospitalization for ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSCs), showing lower hospitalization rates for ACSC in areas with greater access to PHC. The findings support the use of ACSC hospitalization as an indicator of primary care quality, with the precaution of applying appropriate adjustment factors.
Background: We examined the effects of leaving public sector general practitioner (GP) work and of taking a GP position on changes in work-related psychosocial factors, such as time pressure, patient-related stress, distress and work interference with family. In addition, we examined whether changes in time pressure and patient-related stress mediated the association of employment change with changes of distress and work interference with family. Methods: Participants were 1705 Finnish physicians (60% women) who responded to surveys in 2006 and 2010. Analyses of covariance were conducted to examine the effect of employment change to outcome changes adjusted for gender, age and response format. Mediational effects were tested following the procedures outlined by Baron and Kenny. Results: Employment change was significantly associated with all the outcomes. Leaving public sector GP work was associated with substantially decreased time pressure, patient-related stress, distress and work interference with family. In contrast, taking a position as a public sector GP was associated with an increase in these factors. Mediation tests suggested that the associations of employment change with distress change and work interference with family change were partially explained by the changes in time pressure and patient-related stress. Conclusions: Our results showed that leaving public sector GP work is associated with favourable outcomes, whereas taking a GP position in the public sector is associated with adverse effects. Primary health-care organizations should pay more attention to the working conditions of their GPs, in particular, to time pressure and patient-related stress.
Background: Antenatal care can play an important role in the prevention of preterm birth. Evaluation of antenatal care is usually based on the number of visits rather than the content of care, using tools such as the Adequacy of Prenatal Care Use index. This article presents an analysis of the relation between specific elements of antenatal care and the risk of preterm birth compared with considering the number of visits only. Methods: A prospective cohort study was conducted in the Brussels Metropolitan Region. In all, 333 women were consecutively recruited at the beginning of their antenatal care trajectory and followed until birth. Information on timing and content for every visit was recorded by structured interview. A new tool was developed to measure the antenatal care trajectory, which included Content and Timing of care in Pregnancy (CTP). Odds ratios (OR) (adjusted and unadjusted) for preterm birth were calculated for the Adequacy of Prenatal Care Use and CTP model. Results: The number of visits alone was not associated with preterm birth. In contrast, a significant association was found between the content and timing of care and preterm birth. Compared with the CTP lowest (‘inadequate’) category, women in the CTP ‘sufficient’ (OR 0.30; 95% CI 0.09–0.94) and CTP ‘appropriate’ (OR 0.21; 95% CI 0.06–0.68) category had a lower risk. Conclusions: This study suggests that measurement of the content and timing of care of antenatal care using the new CTP tool is a better assessment of the risk of preterm birth than assessment of the number of antenatal visits alone.
We examined how acceptance of euthanasia among the general public has changed between 1981 and 2008 in western and central and eastern European (CEE) countries using data of the European Values Surveys. Data were collected in 1981, 1990, 1999 and 2008 for 13 western European countries and in 1990, 1999 and 2008 for 10 CEE countries. Euthanasia acceptance increased each decade up until 2008 in 11 of 13 western European countries; in CEE countries, it decreased or did not increase between 1999–2008 in 8 of 10 countries. A number of explanations for and implications of this apparent east-west polarization are suggested.
Background: Mental health problems in childhood and adolescence are an important public health concern. The general aim of Finnish health policy is to offer equal services for all inhabitants according to need, irrespective of socio-economic background or place of residence. Here, we assess equity in access to psychiatric care in a long-term nationwide follow-up study from birth to early adulthood. Methods: All 60 069 children born in Finland in 1987 were followed up through health registers from 1987 to 2008. The cohort members’ use of specialized psychiatric outpatient and inpatient care was assessed and linked to their socio-economic status and residential area. Results: Altogether, 14.4% of the cohort members had received specialized psychiatric care during the follow-up. Females used significantly more specialized psychiatric outpatient care than males. In addition, the use of specialized psychiatric care was more common among young people with a poor socio-economic background and those living in urban areas. Conclusions: A notable number of the young adults born in Finland in 1987 used specialized psychiatric care during their childhood and adolescence. Use was clearly defined by sex and residential area, as well as by parental socio-economic status and education. The data indicate that equity in access to mental health services should be highlighted in health policies, as contemporary outpatient mental health care has not been equally available for people living within and outside urban areas.
Background: Healthy diet is a core component in prevention and self-management of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The long-term efficacy was assessed of a theory-based health education programme ‘Ready to Act’ on dietary quality in people with screen-detected dysglycaemia. Methods: Five hundred and nine adults with prediabetes (impaired glucose tolerance, impaired fasting glycaemia) or type 2 diabetes were recruited through screening for type 2 diabetes [the ADDITION (Anglo-Danish-Dutch Study of Intensive Treatment in People with Screen-Detected Diabetes in Primary Care) study, DK] and then randomly assigned to health education or to a control group (I = 322; C = 187). The intervention group was offered a 12-week programme in health-related action competence including 2 one-to-one and 8 group sessions (18 h). Dietary quality was measured by the Dietary Quality Score_revised (0–8 points) at baseline and at one- and 3-year follow-up. Changes were analysed by multilevel analyses. Results: The analysis included data from 444 participants (87%). At the 3-year follow-up, the intervention group had significantly increased dietary quality compared with the control group (net change: 0.39 Dietary Quality Score_revised points, P = 0.04). The intake of unsaturated fats used on bread and for cooking increased in the intervention group compared with the control group at the 3-year follow-up (net change: 31 g/week; P = 0.02). A non-significant tendency toward an increased intake of vegetables in the intervention group compared with the control group was seen (net change: 111 g/week; P = 0.16). No changes were seen in fish intake. Conclusions: Health education aiming at action competence improved the long-term dietary quality in a population with dysglycaemia, especially according to the intake of unsaturated fat. The ADDITION trial was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov ID no NCT00237549.
Background: Today’s children spend a great deal of time viewing electronic screen material, but the consequences of such behaviors, if any, are unknown. This study sought to identify (i) the magnitude of total daily electronic screen time and (ii) the relations between electronic screen use and mental well-being indicators, in a sample of 10–12-year-old children. Methods: We analysed cross-sectional, population-based data of 10–12-year-old children from the 2007 Youth in Iceland school survey (n = 10 829, response rate: 81.7%, boys: 50.5%). Logistic regression models with odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were conducted to assess the odds of each selected mental well-being indicator, depending on the number of daily hours spent on each electronic screen-based activity. All analyses were conducted separately for boys and girls and adjusted for family structure. Results:The prevalence of self-reported screen use of 4 hours per day or more ranges from 2.8% to 6.6% among boys and from 1.0% to 3.8% among girls. All five screen-based activities were significantly associated with all seven well-being indicators (P < 0.001) with symptoms being more common with increased time spent on screen use. Conclusions: This study is the first of its kind to demonstrate a dose-response relationship between electronic screen use and mental well-being in 10–12-year-old children. Further research is needed to assess the validity and potential implications of these findings.
Background: To compare the strength of the association between peer victimization at school and subjective health according to the disability or chronic illness (D/CI) status of students across countries. Methods: This study used data from 55 030 students aged 11, 13 and 15 years from 11 countries participating in the 2005–06 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey. Self-completed questionnaires were administered in classrooms. Multivariate models of logistic regression (controlled for confounding factors and countries) were used to investigate differences in the association between peer victimization and poor subjective health according to the D/CI status. Results: Overall, 13.5% of the students reported having been bullied at least two or three times a month. The percentage of victims was significantly higher among those reporting D/CI than among others in all countries studied. Victims of bullying were more likely to report poor self-rated health, low life satisfaction and multiple health complaints. However, there were no differences in the associations between peer victimization and subjective health indicators according to the D/CI status. Conclusions: In all countries studied, students reporting D/CI were more likely to report being victims of bullying. Victims of bullying reported more negative subjective health outcomes regardless of their D/CI status. Although inclusive education is currently a major topic of educational policies in most countries, additional efforts should be made to improve the quality of the integration of students with D/CI.
Background: This study aimed to explore the association between psychosocial health, gambling and gambling problems in a nationally representative sample of Swedish youth aged 16–24 years. Another aim was to examine whether these associations were different between young men and women. Methods: Data were from the cross-sectional Swedish National Public Health Survey in 2004–07. With a response rate of 60.1%, the sample consisted of 19 016 youth. Using a sex-stratified multinomial logistic regression, we estimated associations between psychosocial health variables and gambling and gambling problems. Results: Among males, we found that the higher the alcohol consumption, the higher the likelihood of gambling and gambling problems. Men with high alcohol consumption had an almost four times higher likelihood of gambling problems than men with no or low alcohol consumption (OR 3.94, 95% CI: 2.17–7.14). Moreover, young male victims of violence were more than twice as likely to have gambling problems than non-victims (OR 2.35, 95% CI: 1.39–3.99). Among young women, we found an inverse association between high alcohol consumption and gambling problems (OR 0.15, 95% CI: 0.05–0.44), opposite that of the young men. Furthermore, psychological distress (OR 6.15, 95% CI: 2.15–17.60) and suicidality (OR 2.88, 95% CI: 1.16–7.17) were associated with higher probabilities of gambling problems among young women. Conclusion: Alcohol use, violence victimization and poor mental health are associated with gambling problems among Swedish youth, however, with important sex differences. Prevention of youth gambling should consider sex differences and psychosocial health in addition to gambling.
Background: Early discontinuation of anti-depressant treatment is common. This study analysed whether socio-economic factors influence early discontinuation among new anti-depressant users aged 20–34 years. Methods: Our study population included all Swedes aged 20–34 years who purchased anti-depressants in 2006 and had not purchased such drugs in the preceding 6 months (n = 25 003). We obtained prescription data from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register. Information about demographic and socio-economic factors (country of birth, marital status, household size, education level, occupation, income and social assistance) was collected from Statistics Sweden by record linkage. We defined early discontinuation as filling only one anti-depressant prescription within a 6-month period. We used multiple logistic regression analysis to analyse the socio-economic factors associated with early discontinuation. Results: We identified 6536 individuals (26.1%) as early discontinuers. Early discontinuation was less common among women [odds ratio (OR) = 0.82; 95% confidence intervals (CI) 0.75–0.87] and in those with at least two years of higher education (OR = 0.71; 95% CI 0.61–0.83), whereas it was more common among those born outside Sweden (OR = 1.76; 95% CI 1.48–2.10) and those who received social assistance (OR = 1.26; 95% CI 1.11–1.44). Compared with selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, SSRI, early discontinuation was more common among individuals who started treatment with a tri-cyclic anti-depressant, TCA, (OR = 2.58; 95% CI 2.24–2.98) or an anti-depressant other than SSRIs, TCAs or selective serotonin-norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors/norepinephrine (noradrenaline) re-uptake inhibitors (OR = 2.90; 95% CI 2.05–4.10). Conclusion: Early discontinuation occurred more commonly among social assistance recipients and those with immigrant background, suggesting that those groups might require greater support when initiating anti-depressant therapy.