Non-communicable diseases and the social determinants of health in the Nordic countries: Findings from the European Social Survey (2014) special module on the social determinants of health

Mirza Balaj*, Timothy Hubertus Maria Huijts, Courtney L. McNamara, Per Stornes, Clare Bambra, Terje A. Eikemo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Comparative studies examining non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and determinants of health in the Nordic countries are scarce, outdated and focus only on a limited range of NCDs and health determinants. This study is the first to present a comprehensive overview of the distribution of social and behavioural determinants of health and of physical and mental NCDs in the Nordic population. We examined regional, country and gender differences for 17 health outcomes and 20 determinants of health. We use data from the 7th wave of the European Social Survey. All results were age-standardised by weighting up or down the unstandardized (crude) prevalence rates for five year age groups in each country to a common standard. We present pooled estimates for the combined regional samples as well as country-specific results for the Nordic region. Overall, the population of the Nordic region reported among the highest prevalence for one or both genders in 10 out of 17 health outcomes. Despite being the region with the highest prevalence for most health outcomes, overall self-rated health levels tend to be better in the Nordic region. Similarly, we found that the Nordic countries adhere to a healthier lifestyle and have better access to health care. Future studies should consider investigating further the association between health outcomes and determinants of health and how they are distributed in the Nordic societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-102
Number of pages13
JournalScandinavian journal of public health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

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  • morbidity
  • Nordic paradox
  • prevalence
  • self-reported health
  • social determinants of health

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