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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Health system outcomes and determinants amenable to public health in industrialized countries: a pooled, cross-sectional time series analysis

Onyebuchi A Arah123*, Gert P Westert34, Diana M Delnoij5 and Niek S Klazinga1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Social Medicine, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 22700, 1100 DE Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2 Netherlands Institute for Health Sciences, Erasmus MC, PO Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, the Netherlands

3 Center for Prevention and Health Services Research, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands

4 Tranzo, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Tilburg University, PO Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, the Netherlands

5 Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (Nivel), PO Box 1568, Utrecht 3500 BN, the Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2005, 5:81  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-5-81

Published: 2 August 2005

Abstract

Background

Few studies have tried to assess the combined cross-sectional and temporal contributions of a more comprehensive set of amenable factors to population health outcomes for wealthy countries during the last 30 years of the 20th century. We assessed the overall ecological associations between mortality and factors amenable to public health. These amenable factors included addictive and nutritional lifestyle, air quality, public health spending, healthcare coverage, and immunizations.

Methods

We used a pooled cross-sectional, time series analysis with corrected fixed effects regression models in an ecological design involving eighteen member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development during the period 1970 to 1999.

Results

Alcohol, tobacco, and fat consumption, and sometimes, air pollution were significantly associated with higher all-cause mortality and premature death. Immunizations, health care coverage, fruit/vegetable and protein consumption, and collective health expenditure had negative effects on mortality and premature death, even after controlling for the elderly, density of practicing physicians, doctor visits and per capita GDP. However, tobacco, air pollution, and fruit/vegetable intake were sometimes sensitive to adjustments.

Conclusion

Mortality and premature deaths could be improved by focusing on factors that are amenable to public health policies. Tackling these issues should be reflected in the ongoing assessments of health system performance.