Østfold Health Profile documents big social differences in health PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 14 June 2012 10:32

In a recent self-administered questionnaire three quarters of the citizens of Østfold County reported about good or very good health. But the level varies clearly between different socio-economic groups.

The difference is particularly big between employed and unemployed citizens. Only 36% of the unemployed in Østfold describe their health as good or very good, while this is the case for 83% of employed. Similar differences were observed between those with high and with low levels of education.  
Data were collected from 17440 citizens, and the first reports of each of the municipalities in the county were published recently.

Percentage in various socio-economic groups in the municipalities in Østfold County reporting „very good health” or „good health”.

Total High university

school education

On social welfare,
unemployed etc
ØSTFOLD 73,4 86,2 59,3 83,4 36,1
Askim 67,9 82,8 53,3 77,6 38,2
Moss 71,8 83,0 65,8 81,1 42,4
Sarpsborg 71,2 85,5 58,4 81,5 36,9
Halden 75,6 89,7 59,4 86,9 34,0
Fredrikstad 73,6 87,7 53,2 84,1 33,6
Aremark 71,8 92,9 61,8 85,7 39,4
Eidsberg 74,2 82,3 62,0 84,1 37,9
Skiptvet 71,5 82,0 57,4 82,6 25,7
Spydeberg 75,4 87,4 66,5 85,1 36,3
Våler 72,9 86,1 52,9 82,8 32,3
Råde 76,7 85,0 60,0 86,4 38,9
Rygge 73,2 91,5 55,8 82,5 30,8
Hvaler 73,3 86,6 62,8 82,4 41,2
Marker 71,9 87,1 52,4 83,9 35,1
Trøgstad 73,4 80,6 60,6 81,6 31,0
Rømskog 83,7 88,1 73,7 92,9 45,8
Hobøl 74,3 83,9 59,0 82,9 34,7
Rakkestad 75,9 87,5 65,0 85,2 41,4
Please observe that some of the subgroups are rather small, as the total effective sample for each municipality was 800-1000. Some of the differences are therefore due to  random variation.  Those trends are confirmed however by other observations, and can support targeting interventions and preventive actions.

The low proportion of those declaring good health among unemployed and people on social benefits is worrying - especially taking into account the high average level for the whole population. It is necessary for the governments of local communities to pay attention to the hard facts behind the figures, says County public health politician Inger Christin Torp. She is the Head of the Board of Østfold Health Unit, and the Chair of the Education, Culture and Health Protection Committee of the county.

The most important message I would like to pass to the leaders of the municipalities of Østfold is the following: please, target the recently adopted Cooperation Reform not only for the older generation, but also for the new generation. One of the reasons of unemployment is an insufficient level of education. We have to plan the future of our children and take the right decisions already before the child is born! This is an important part of the new reform, which if given adequate priority can contribute to a sustainable future society.

– We have not started yet to analyse the data for the whole county. That is a laborious and time-consuming work and we hope to complete this process by the end of year. The reports for the municipalities were published early in the process to support planning processes in the municipalities, and also to give feedback to the many citizens who took the time to fill in the questionnaires.

The Health Profiles include data about health in a broad sense, and about traditional negative health risk factors as well as positive, health promoting factors. The data was collected as part  of the HEPROGRESS project, cofinanced by the EU Commission. The project is carried out in collaboration with partners in Lavia.

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