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:: 13 the future of Healthcare
Investigating explanations of socio-economic inequalities in health
13 the future of Healthcare 4/8/2004 8:40:58 AM

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.


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