Prevalence of physical and mental non-communicable diseases in Europe: findings from the European Social Survey (2014) special module on the social determinants of health

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Background: Previous studies examining physical and mental non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Europe have so far largely either focused on limited numbers of countries or on fairly limited ranges of NCDs, with mental health in particular often being ignored. This article has three aims: (i) To provide a recent, comprehensive overview of a broad range of NCDs across a range of countries in all European regions; (ii) To give an overview of measures of physical and mental health in the new special rotating module in the European Social Survey (ESS); and (iii) To offer the first comprehensive comparison of estimates on physical and mental NCDs across European countries in this new promising data source. Methods: We use data from the 7th wave of the ESS. Results are presented separately for men and women. All results were age-standardized by weighting up or down the unstandardized (crude) prevalence rates for 5-year age groups in each country to a common standard. We present pooled estimates for the combined cross-national sample as well as country-specific results. Results: Overall, 74.1% of men and 79.7% of women reported at least one physical NCD. Across the 21 countries were observed that these percentages varied between 45.2% (for men in Hungary) and 91.6% (women in Finland). Serious depressive symptoms were reported by 10.2% of men and 18.8% of women, with percentages ranging between 6.2% (men in Ireland) and 30.9% (women in Portugal). Conclusions: A substantial share of Europeans experience the burden of NCDs, and the extent to which people report these conditions varies across countries. However, all physical and mental NCDs in this rotating module are reported by considerable percentages in each of the 21 country samples, which emphasizes that these conditions are not marginal phenomena but public health concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-13
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes



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