The first pan-european sociological health inequalities survey of the general population: The european social survey rotating module on the social determinants of health

Terje A. Eikemo*, Clare Bambra, Timothy Hubertus Maria Huijts, Rory Fitzgerald

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The European Social Survey (ESS) is a biennial, academically driven, cross-sectional, pan-European social survey that charts and explains the interactions between Europe's changing institutions and the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour patterns of its diverse populations. As part of the seventh round of the ESS, we successfully developed a rotating module that provides a comprehensive and comparative pan-European data set on the social determinants of health and health inequalities. In this article, we present the rationale for the module, the health outcomes, and social determinants that were included, and some of the opportunities that the module provide for advancing research into explaining the distribution and aetiology of social inequalities in health in Europe. Thus far, no health survey has had sufficient data on the stratification system of societies, including rich data on living conditions, and there is no sociological survey with sufficient variety of lifestyle factors and health outcomes. By including unhealthy lifestyle behaviours, childhood conditions, housing conditions, working conditions, and variables describing access to healthcare, together with an extensive set of mental and physical health outcomes, the ESS has strengthened its position tremendously as a data source for sociologists wanting to perform European cross-national analyses of health inequalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-153
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number1
Early online date16 May 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 May 2016

Bibliographical note

© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press.

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