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BMC Health Serv Res. 2007 Aug 16;7:128.

Between health care and social security--psychiatric patients and the disability pension system in Norway and Russia.

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Nordland Hospital, Psychiatric department, N-8092, Bodø, Norway.



The official statistics of persons with mental disorders who are granted disability pension (DP) in Russia and Norway indicate large differences between the countries.


This qualitative explorative hypothesis-generating study is based on text analysis of the laws, regulations and guidelines, and qualitative interviews of informants representing all the organisational elements of the DP systems in both countries.


The DP application process is initiated much later in Norway than in Russia, where a 3 year occupational rehabilitation and adequate treatment is mandatory before DP is granted. In Russia, two instances are responsible for preparing of the medical certification for DP, a patients medical doctor (PD) and a clinical expert commission (CEC) while there is one in Norway (PD). In Russia, the Bureau of Medical-Social Expertise is responsible for evaluation and granting of DP. In Norway, the local social insurance offices (SIO) are responsible for the DP application. Decisions are taken collectively in Russia, while the Norwegian PD and SIO officer often take decisions alone. In Russia, the medical criterion is the decisive one, while rehabilitation and treatment criteria are given priority in Norway. The size of the DP in Norway is enough to cover of subsistences expenditure, while the Russian DP is less than the level required for minimum subsistence.


There were noteworthy differences in the time frame, organisation model and process leading to a DP in the two countries. These differences may explain why so few patients with less severe mental disorders receive a DP in Russia. This fact, in combination with the size of the DP, may hamper reforms of the mental health care system in Russia.

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