EU-SILC 2005: Health self-assessment of population

16.04.2007

Health is one of the most important components of the living conditions. The interaction of the health and all the rest of the living conditions is mutual, what means - bad living conditions often has negative impact on health and vice versa – bad health makes worse all the rest of the living conditions.

3843 households participated in the European Community Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) in 2005. The questions on state of health were asked to all household members who were at age of 16 and over. Totally 7913 respondents provided self-assessment on their state of health.

Within the EU-SILC survey was found out the feeling of the people and subjective opinion on their state of health.

Most of the respondents (almost a half) described their state of health as average. In this assessment men and women were on the same opinion. But still, men evaluated their state of health as slightly better than women. It is testified by the fact, that 37% of the men described their state of health as good and only 29% of the women gave the same evaluation on their state of health. 19% of the women, in turn, evaluated their state of health as bad and the same answer gave comparatively less men (14%).

Self-assessment of the general state of health mentioned by respondents(in per cent)

Analogical data on self-assessment of the state of health were obtained in Health survey of Latvia population in 2003 in which were surveyed people aged 15-74. It can be concluded, that people’s self-assessment of their state of health has a tendency to get worse, comparing with information provided by respondents of EU-SILC survey in analogical age group (16-74 years). The data of the fallowing chart can testify it.

Self-assessment of the state of health (in per cent)

The data of the EU-SILC do not show significant differences in self-assessment of the state of health between regions of Latvia, nevertheless people living in Kurzeme and Pieriga region are evaluating their state of health slightly higher.

6,1% of the respondents of the youngest age group (16 – 24 years) described their state of health as ‘’very good’’. It is not surprising that at this age self-assessment of the state of health is ‘’good’’(64%), but surprisingly is that in age group 25-49 years is the dominating answer ‘’fair’’ state of health (45%), which reaches its' maximum at age group of 50 – 64 years (56%).

Self-assessment of the general state of health given by respondents
by age groups (in per cent)

The data of EU-SILC do not prove existence of significant difference between the self-assessment of state of health between people with different income. The differences can be observed, but they can be connected not with the level of the income, but rather with dissimilar age structure in groups of diverse income level. For example, worse self-assessment of the state of health has been observed in second quintile1, where the rate of population at retirement age is high.

Quite interesting results show the answers of the question ‘’ Do you have any chronic illness, long-standing sickness or disabilities?’’ According to data of NORBALT II survey on life conditions, which was carried out in 1999, where were surveyed people at age from 18, 30% of the respondents said that they have chronic illnesses, sustained sicknesses or disabilities. In EU-SILC survey of 2005 already 37% of the surveyed in the same age group gave positive answer.

At the same time respondents quite rarely say, that health problems disturbed or limited their daily activities at home, work or rest for at least 6 months. As serious problem it was mentioned by 11% of the respondents, but other 22% of the surveyed mentioned, that limitations exist, but they are not so bothersome. On the results of the survey it can be concluded, that restrictions caused by health problems increase for people after age of 50.

Within the EU-SILC survey to respondents was asked a question “Did you have necessity to do health examination with medical specialist or treatment within last 12 months, but you did not do that?’’ Positively to this question answered 30% of the respondents. It is interesting that in rural areas with less opportunities to get medical help than in cities, the rate of respondents, who mentioned such cases, was lower than in cities. 26% of the respondents from rural areas pointed, that within last 12 months there was necessity to do medical examination or treatment, but it was not done, but in turn, in cities, 31% of the surveyed pointed at this problem, but the most in Riga – 32%.

To understand the reasons for such paradox must be examined causes of respondents' refusal from the medical help. The main reasons are fallowing: 56% of the surveyed respondents mentioned, that they could not afford it, and 13% could not find free time because of the work or they had to take care of the children or other people. 15% of the surveyed did not do health examination or treatment, because they wanted to wait and see if it is not becoming better after some time, what shows quite inattentive attitude to own health, what in the worst case can lead to the illness in more serious form.

Let us take a look to those refusal reasons by income quintiles.

The breakdown of answers to question "What was the main reason for you not to do medical examination with medical specialist or tratment?'' by income quintile groups

This graph shows the tight connection between income level and ability to cover the expenses on consultations with medical specialist or medical help (except dentist). Respectively, the households with lover level of income are more under the risk not to receive needed medical help. In the same time, with the increase of the income, increases rate of the refusal reasons to visit doctor or receive medical help connected with the lack of time.

Similar situation can be observed also regarding dental examination or treatment, where approximately the same rate of the respondents (29%) as in the previous case had necessity to visit the dentist, but it was not done. In 3/4 of the cases (77%) limitations of the financial character (I could not afford it, too expensive) was the main reason, why the dental examination or treatment was not made. The reasons of subjective character, in turn, (fear to visit dentist; wanted to wait and see if it is not becoming better after some time) totally made 11% of the refusal reasons. The rest of the answers did not play important role, excluding ‘’I could not find time because of the work or I had to take care of the children or other people’’ (7,6%).

1quintile – one fifth of the number of the surveyed households, which are grouped in growing sequence by disposable income per one household member.

Prepared by Social Statistics Department
Tel.7 366 908
Edmunds Vaskis

annex 1

Breakdown of the answers to the question “What was the main reason for you
not to make medical examination with medical specialist or treatment’’
(in per cent)

quintiles

1. (lowest)

2.

3.

4.

5. (highest)

All answers

100

100

100

100

100

of which:

I could not afford it (too expensive)

73,2

67,7

57,0

40,7

24,0

It takes too long time to see the doctor/rows

1,9

2,5

6,5

8,9

13,2

I could not find time because of the work or I had to take care of the children or other people

6,6

8,8

9,6

15,9

29,4

I had to ride too far/do not have transport

1,5

3,6

2,0

1,1

1,0

Afraid of the doctors/hospitals/treatment

2,9

1,7

2,8

3,9

2,7

I wanted to wait and see if it is not becoming better after some time

11,1

12,4

17,2

18,3

19,5

I did not know any good doctor or specialist

0,8

0,8

3,4

5,7

6,6

Other reasons

2,0

2,5

1,5

5,5

3,5