Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Self-Perceived Health in the Czech Population: Recent Evidence

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Self-Perceived Health in the Czech Population: Recent Evidence

Article excerpt

SUMMARY

This article considers developing trends in self-perceptions of health among the Czech population. Its conclusions are based on data from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) conducted from 2005-2011. The data analysis suggests that the compression of morbidity is present, but the Czech Republic continues to lag behind Western Europe. In addition, among males the difference in health expectancies between the Czech Republic and the EU-15 is due to a change in mortality at higher ages, rather than in self-perceived health. Among females the opposite is true. Demographic categories, such as "attained education" and "age-group" proved to be significant factors in influencing self-perceived health in the Czech population for the year 2011. Gender and marital status seem to be less important.

Key words: self-perceived health, Sullivan method, EU-SILC, Czech Republic

INTRODUCTION

Significant improvements in life expectancy at birth, winch measures the average lifespan of a person born in a given year if mortality levels remain constant, have continued over the last few decades. In fact, this improvement has been documented in most regions throughout the world (1, 2). Advances in medicine and public health, improved living standards, higher levels of education attainment, and lower levels of fertility are considered to be the key contributing factors in this change. While this greater life expectancy at birth is generally considered to be good, it raises new questions. In the 1980s three theoretical concepts about the relationship between mortality and morbidity were formulated. The first concept states that the compression of morbidity, winch follow medical progress, leads to a reduction of years spent in bad health (3). The second concept states the opposite, the extra years of life gained through increased longevity are spent in bad health (4-6). The third concept strikes a dynamic equilibrium between the first two. Manton (7) claims that the proportion of years spent in good and bad health remains constant, even as life expectancy at birth increases. Clarifying which conception holds the most truth will contribute to our knowledge of quality of life at older ages, can increase the efficiency of health care, and possibly reduce the financial burden of the health care system.

Population health and its measurement has become a cmcial issue these days, especially among ageing societies in developed countries. For instance, the European Union integrated population health into its list of structural indicators. It now monitors the progress and efficiency of implemented policies and measures its population's health based on life expectancy (using the metric of Healthy Life Years, HLY). Although it is reasonable to assume that an association between mortality and morbidity exists, one simple summary indicator of population health does not exist due to the many dimensions of health and various methods of calculation. According to the WHO definition, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (8). The basic summary measures of population health are divided into health gaps and health expectancies. While health gaps quantify the difference between a present and an ideal situation (e.g. Disability-adjusted Life Years, Years of Life Lost, Years Lived with Disability, Potential Years Lost), health expectancies add quality dimensions to the standard measure of life expectancy. The two sub-divisions of health expectancies, according to calculation methods, are Health State Expectancy (HSE) and Health-adjusted Life Expectancy (HALE). Of these two, Health State Expectancy can be based on perceived health, morbidity or disability, reflecting limitations in daily activities (9).

However, while hundreds of papers deal with health expectancies, only a few examine data from the Czech Republic. Salomon et al. …

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