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Eur J Public Health. 2004 Mar;14(1):63-70.

Investigating explanations of socio-economic inequalities in health: the Dutch GLOBE study.

Author information

1
Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. f.vanlenthe@erasmusmc.nl

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The GLOBE study is a prospective cohort study specifically aimed at the explanation of socio-economic inequalities in health in the Netherlands. The returns of the study are reviewed after ten years of follow-up, and the studies' contribution to the development of policy measures to reduce inequalities in health in the Netherlands are described.

METHODS:

The study started in 1991 with a baseline postal survey (response rate 70.1% or n=18973, 15-74 years of age). Two sub-samples of respondents to this survey were subsequently interviewed in 1991 (response 79.4% and 72.3%, n=5667). Baseline data collection included measures of socio-economic position, health and possible explanatory factors. Follow-up involved repeated postal surveys and interviews, and routinely collected data on hospital admissions, cancer incidence and mortality by cause of death.

RESULTS:

Compared with higher socio-economic groups, lower socio-economic groups showed higher prevalence rates of poor self-reported health (perceived general health, health complaints, chronic conditions, disabilities), higher incidence rates of specific conditions (myocardial infarction) and higher rates of all-cause mortality. The higher prevalence of adverse material circumstances, unhealthy behaviour, adverse psychosocial characteristics, and adverse childhood circumstances in the lower socio-economic groups was important in the explanation of socio-economic inequalities in health. Socio-economic differences in health care utilization did not contribute to the explanation.

CONCLUSIONS:

The GLOBE study contributed significantly to the understanding of the explanation of socio-economic inequalities in health in the Netherlands. Study results were a main source of information in the development of policy measures aimed at the reduction of socio-economic inequalities in health in the Netherlands.

PMID:
15080394
DOI:
10.1093/eurpub/14.1.63
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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