Impact of financial crisis on selected health outcomes in Europe

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Abstract

Background: A number of health outcomes were affected by previous financial crises, e.g. suicides, homicides and transport accident mortality. Aim of this study was to analyse the effects of the current financial crisis on selected health outcomes at population level in Europe. Methods: A mixed approach of ecologic and time trend design was applied, including correlation analysis. For eight countries, data on the economic situation (unemployment rate and economic growth) and health indicators (overall mortality, suicide and transport accident mortality) was drawn from EUROSTAT database for 2000–10. Spearman's rank correlation was applied to analyse the influence of social protection on the association between exposure and outcome variables. Results: The financial crisis had no visible effect on overall mortality in any of the eight countries until 2010. Transport accident mortality decreased in all eight countries, in the range of 18% in Portugal to 52% in Slovenia. In contrast, suicide mortality increased in Germany (+5.3%), Portugal (+5.2%), Czech Republic (+7.6%), Slovakia (+22.7%) and Poland (+19.3%). The effect of unemployment on suicide is higher in countries with lower social spending (Spearman's r = −0.83). Discussion: Clear cause–effect relations could not be established owing to the ecological study design and issues concerning data availability. However, there are clear changes in suicide and transport accident mortality after onset of the crisis, and findings are consistent with previous work. As part of this work, a comprehensive framework was developed, which can be applied to analyse health effects of financial crises in more detail.

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