Open Access Research article

The burden of diabetes mortality in Finland 1988-2007 - A brief report

Kristiina Manderbacka1*, Riina Peltonen2, Seppo Koskinen3 and Pekka Martikainen2

Author Affiliations

1 Service System Research Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare, P.O.Box 30, FIN-00271 Helsinki, Finland

2 Population Research Unit, Department of Social Research, P.O.Box 54, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

3 Department of Health, Functional Capacity and Welfare, National Institute for Health and Welfare, P.O.Box 30, FIN-00271 Helsinki, Finland

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2011, 11:747  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-747

Published: 30 September 2011



Increasing incidence of diabetes has been reported in many countries and the disease burden related to diabetes to be distributed unevenly across the population. Patients with lower socioeconomic position have been reported to have higher diabetes prevalence, higher rates of diabetes related complications and excess mortality. This study examined trends in gender, age and socioeconomic differences in the burden of diabetes mortality in the Finnish population aged 35-80 and potential years of life lost (PYLL) due to diabetes.


The data consist of an 11% random sample of Finnish residents in 1987-2007 and an 80% oversample of persons who died during those years. We examined diabetes both as underlying and contributory cause. We calculated age-specific and age-standardized diabetes death rates by gender and socioeconomic position using the direct method and PYLL due to diabetes related deaths for 2004-2007.


Diabetes related mortality was higher among older Finns. A clear and systematic socioeconomic pattern was detected among both men and women: the higher the socioeconomic position the lower the mortality. The contribution of diabetes to PYLL was 8% among men and 6% among women. Among women, the contribution of diabetes to PYLL was lower in higher socioeconomic groups, whereas among men, the contribution was similar in all socioeconomic groups.


In order to further reduce the burden of diabetes a better treatment balance to prevent diabetes complications would significantly decrease the burden of diabetes mortality. Use of underlying and contributory causes of death is useful in monitoring trends and sub-group differences in the burden of diabetes.