Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Health and Happiness: Cross-Sectional Household Surveys in Finland, Poland and Spain/ Sante et Bonheur: Enquetes Transversales Sur Les Menages Menees En Finlande, Pologne et Espagne/ Salud Y Felicidad: Encuestas Transversales a Hogares En Finlandia, Polonia Y Espana

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Health and Happiness: Cross-Sectional Household Surveys in Finland, Poland and Spain/ Sante et Bonheur: Enquetes Transversales Sur Les Menages Menees En Finlande, Pologne et Espagne/ Salud Y Felicidad: Encuestas Transversales a Hogares En Finlandia, Polonia Y Espana

Article excerpt

Introduction

Many national surveys are in progress to evaluate well-being as an indicator of societal progress that goes beyond traditional indices, such as gross domestic product (GDP). These surveys inform policy-makers about the factors that can affect the well-being of populations. (1) The Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress recommended shifting emphasis from measuring economic production to measuring people's well-being and that this measurement be done at a national level. (2) In line with these recommendations, the Better Life Initiative, launched by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, aims to measure society's progress across eleven domains of well-being, such as life satisfaction, health, education and environment. (3) Efforts are also being made at the national level in many countries. (4-9)

Health and well-being are interconnected, with wellbeing influencing health (10,11) and health influencing wellbeing. (12,13) Health is an important determinant of subjective well-being, together with other elements such as having a job, a partner and social contact. (13) Good health is linked with greater well-being; while setbacks in health, such as serious diseases or disability, have negative effects on well-being. (12)

Research distinguishes between two different ways of assessing well-being. The first is to ask people to evaluate their life. The result is called evaluative well-being. The second way is to ask people to report the positive and negative emotions that they experience day-to-day. This is called experienced well-being. Evaluative well-being thus refers to a person's overall evaluation of the quality of his or her life, whereas experienced well-being captures the positive and negative emotions that people experience from moment to moment. (14) Assessing both dimensions is relevant, because these do not necessarily have the same correlates. For example, people with high income report more satisfaction with their lives when their evaluative well-being is assessed but these same people do not report better experienced well-being. Other life circumstances, such as marital status and education, are also more strongly correlated with evaluative than experienced well-being. (14,15) On the other hand, ill health, caring for an adult, loneliness and smoking have been reported to be strong predictors of low experienced well-being. (14) However, analysis of the correlation between health status and evaluative and experienced well-being has not been done at a population level. Therefore, we explored associations between health and evaluative and experienced well-being in three countries, and we tried to understand which part of the population has the highest risk of poor well-being.

Methods

Study design and data source

The Collaborative Research on Ageing in Europe project (16) is a cross-sectional household survey of a probabilistic sample representative of the non-institutionalized adult population of Finland, Poland and Spain. We selected these countries to give a broad representation of European populations, health characteristics and welfare systems. (17)

The information was collected with a face-to-face structured interview carried out at respondents' homes, via Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing, between 8 April 2011 and 8 May 2012. The interviewers had participated in a training course for the administration of the survey. The questionnaires were based on the ones used in the World Health Organization (WHO) Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) (18) and they were translated from English into Finnish, Polish and Spanish following the World Health Organization translation guidelines for assessment instruments. (19) The translated questionnaires were piloted in 2010 in the countries and based on the feedback from the interviewers some changes and corrections were made. Quality assurance procedures were implemented during fieldwork. …

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