The social and behavioural determinants of health in Europe: Findings from the European Social Survey (2014) special module on the social determinants of health

Tim Huijts*, Per Stornes, Terje A. Eikemo, Clare L. Bambra, Jason Beckfield, Claus Wendt, Nadine Reibling, Courtney L. McNamara, Katie H Thomson, Mirza Balaj, Erlend Fjaer, Anna Gkiouleka, HiNews Consortium

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Previous studies comparing the social and behavioural determinants of health in Europe have largely focused on individual countries or combined data from various national surveys. In this article, we present the findings from the new rotating module on social determinants of health in the European Social Survey (ESS) (2014) to obtain the first comprehensive comparison of estimates on the prevalence of the following social and behavioural determinants of health: working conditions, access to healthcare, housing quality, unpaid care, childhood conditions and health behaviours. Methods: We used the 7th round of the ESS. We present separate results for men and women. All estimates were age-standardized in each separate country using a consistent metric. We show country-specific results as well as pooled estimates for the combined cross-national sample. Results: We found that social and behavioural factors that have a clear impact on physical and mental health, such as lack of healthcare access, risk behaviour and poor working conditions, are reported by substantial numbers of people in most European countries. Furthermore, our results highlight considerable cross-national variation in social and behavioural determinants of health across European countries. Conclusions: Substantial numbers of Europeans are exposed to social and behavioural determinants of health problems. Moreover, the extent to which people experience these social and behavioural factors varies cross-nationally. Future research should examine in more detail how these factors are associated with physical and mental health outcomes, and how these associations vary across countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-62
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2017

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