RESEARCH – August 2019

The health and health behaviour of Estonian adult population. An overview of the 2018 national health survey

Authors: Rainer Reile, Mare Tekkel, Tatjana Veideman

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Background. Health Behaviour among Estonian Adult Population is a nationwide study of population health and health behaviour, which has been conducted regularly since 1990. The biennial survey provides comparable and representative data on long­term trends in health behaviour.

Aim. To describe the methodology and main results of the 2018 survey. Methods. A stratified random sample of 5,000 individuals aged 16 to 64 years was drawn from the Population Register. The study was conducted in March–May 2018 using identical postal and online question
naires. The questionnaires included 88 items on health status and use of health services, dietary habits, smoking and alcohol use, physical activity and traffic behaviour. The study was approved by the Tallinn Medical Research Ethics Committee and was conducted at the National Institute for Health Development.

Results. With 2,525 respondents, the crude and adjusted response rates were 50.5% and 51.4%, respectively. Higher response rate was found for the older age­groups, women and Estonians. Although the respondents` dietary behaviour has not significantly changed compared to a previous study, the share of the respondents who have never changed their diet has declined significantly during the past 10 years. However, 61% of the men and 44% of the women are either overweight or obese. No statistically significant changes were observed regarding the frequency or amount of alcohol consumption whereas the share of smokers and exposure to passive smoking has declined considerably compared to the previous study in 2016. Self­rated health was good or rather good for half of the respondents. At the same time, illness­related limitations in everyday activities were also reported by almost half of the respondents. A significant decline was found for several mental health indicators. The health insurance coverage (94%) and the use of health services and medications has remained stable compared to the previous study conducted in 2016.