Population’s self-assessment of the state of heath is improving

27.02.2008

Since 2005 the Central Statistical Bureau has joined the Community Survey on Income and Life Conditions (EU-SILC). The survey is carried out in all member states of the European Union using common methodology and definitions. Within the EU-SILC survey among all the other questions the subjective opinion of the people on their state of health was also found out.

During the survey of 2006 4315 households were surveyed. The questions on their state of health were asked to all household members aged 16 and over. Totally 9071 respondent assessed own state of health, and their answers were summarized on all population at the corresponding age.

If one compares the answers given by the respondents in 2005 and 2006, it can be concluded that, the share of respondents not having problems with their health has increased. Nevertheless only slight share of respondents characterised their health as ‘’very good’’, such health self-assessment has a trend to increase. But the share of respondents esteeming their health as ‘’bad’’ or ‘’very bad’’ has reduced.

Self-assessment of the general state of health mentioned by respondents
in 2005 and 2006
(in per cent)

In 2006 the highest percentage of the respondents (39%) characterised their state of health as ‘’fair’’, less than in 2005 (43%). Almost the same share of respondents (38%) characterised their sate of health as ''good''. Compared to 2005, the share of respondents with such health self-assessment has increased by 6 percentage points (from 32% of respondents in 2005 to 38% of respondents in 2006).

The answers on health self-assessment given by men differ from the answers given by women. This difference is presented in below graph.

Answers to the question "How would you assess
your general state of health?", 2006
(in per cent)

Compared to 2005, increasingly more men and women are assessing their state of health as ‘’good’’ and ‘’very good’’. If in 2005 such evaluation was given by 40% of men and 31% of women, in 2006 the number has increased up to 48% and 36%, respectively.

The survey data do not show the significant differences of health self-assessment in breakdown by different regions of Latvia, but the health self-assessment of the residents of Pierīga region and Riga is better then in other regions.

The health self-assessment varies depending on the age group of the respondent. The most optimistic self-assessment was recorded among young people aged 16-24. 79% of tem assess their health as ‘’good’’ or ‘’very good’’. But the lowest estimations of the state of health as recorded among respondents aged 65 and over. More than a half (53%) of tem assess their health as ‘’bad’’ or ‘’very bad’’.

Answers to the question "How would you assess
your general state of health?", 2006
(in per cent)

In 2006 positive answer to the question ‘’Do you have any chronic illness, sustained sickness or disabilities?’’ gave more than a half of respondents (35%). If compared to the results of 2005 when positive answer to the same question was given by 36% of the surveyed, the results show slight differences. At the same time respondents quite rarely say, that health problems at least in last 6 months disturbed or limited their daily activities at home, work or rest. As serious problem (there are strong limitations) it was mentioned by 10% of the respondents, but other 24% of the surveyed mentioned, that exist limitations, but they are not so distinctive. 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 respondents were 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?’’ 1. Positive answer to this question (‘’Yes, there was at least one occasion’’) gave 26% of the respondents. That is less than in 2005, when such answer was given by the 30% of the surveyed. If analysing answers given to that question, it should be mentioned that, significant changes between the answers given by respondents in rural and urban areas was not observed.

The main reasons why respondents had to refuse the medical care were the following: 43% of the respondents of those who had necessity to do health examination with medical specialist or treatment within last 12 months but did not do that mentioned that, they could not afford it or it was too expensive, and 22% said that they wanted to wait and see if it is not becoming better after some time. Almost the same answers were given by both rural and urban population. But rural population more often than urban population (20% in cities and 25% in rural areas) used the excuse ‘’I wanted to wait and see if it is not becoming better after some time’’.

Compared to previous survey, the share of respondents refusing to visit the doctor because ‘’could not afford it (too expensive)’’ (56% in 2005) has decreased, and the share of those who wanted to wait has noticeably increased (15% in 2005).

Almost every fourth respondent (24%) surveyed in 2006 had a necessity to visit a dentist within last 12 months, but it was not done. 71% of the persons who had a necessity to visit a dentist within last 12 months, but did not do that mentioned that they ‘’could not afford it (too expensive)’’. But the second most frequently mentioned reason for not visiting a dentist (11%) was that people are ''afraid of the doctors’’.

__________________________
1 Except the services of the dentist.

Prepared by Social Statistics Department
Tel. 67366908
Edmunds Vaskis