International collaboration publishes findings on health comparisons of European cities
posted on: Dec 13, 2010
Work by an international collaboration making comparisons of metropolitan areas across Europe has found that health tends to be worse in the north and west of the UK and the central belt and south east of Germany, and more favourable in Sweden and north west Belgium, even accounting for differences in socio-economic composition. Dr Linsay Gray and Prof Alastair Leyland from the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit lead the work with contributions from colleagues in Sweden, England, Belgium, Northern Ireland, Spain, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Finland and Germany.
Health survey data on 126,853 individuals from 33 metropolitan areas throughout Europe were used to compare general health, longstanding illness, acute sickness, psychological distress and obesity. Account was taken of differences between areas in the education and social class of their populations. Investigators found some areas (Greater Glasgow; Greater Manchester, Cheshire & Merseyside; Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and South Yorkshire) had significantly higher levels of poor health. Other areas (West Flanders and Antwerp) had better than average health. Differences in individual socio-economic circumstances did not explain findings.
This study demonstrated that combining national health survey data covering international areas is feasible but challenging.