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Eur J Public Health. 2003 Sep;13(3 Suppl):67-72.

Evaluation of Health Interview Surveys and Health Examination Surveys in the European Union.

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  • 1National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.



The project 'Health surveys in the EU: HIS and HIS/HES evaluations and models' aims to assess the coverage of specific health and health-related areas in national and international surveys by reviewing and evaluating surveys, their methods and comparability, and by recommending appropriate survey designs and methods.


As basis for the evaluation, the project developed a health survey database. At present, Health Interview Surveys (HIS) and Health Examination Surveys (HES) from 18 Western European countries as well as from Canada, Australia and the USA are included.


National HISs have been carried out regularly in almost all Western European countries. The HIS may consist of short health sections or modules within multi-purpose surveys or lengthy health interviews with several questionnaires. National HESs with a comprehensive focus have been conducted at regular or irregular intervals in five countries. The HES may comprise an interview and a few measurements or a comprehensive health examination. Sampling frames, fieldwork, quality control procedures and response rates vary greatly. Differences between measurement instruments used, in the wording of questions and in examination protocols reduce the comparability of many findings.


The Internet based HIS/HES database allows for a quick reference and comparison of methods and instruments used in national health surveys. It illustrates the need for improving comparability. Collaboration and co-ordination is needed to promote comprehensive health monitoring supporting the development of national and European-level health policy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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