Association between health behaviour and self-reported health in Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania.

Anu Kasmel , Ville Helasoja , Andrus Lipand , Ritva Prättälä , Jurate Klumbiene , Iveta Pudule

BACKGROUND: The aim of the present study is to examine the associations of the selected health behaviours (daily smoking, frequent strong alcohol use, consumption of fresh vegetables less than 3 days a week and leisure time physical activity less than two/three times a week) to the self-assessed health after adjustment to the age and education in Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania. METHODS: Data from cross-sectional surveys carried out in all the above-mentioned countries were used. The methodology and questionnaires of the surveys were standardized between the participating countries within the Finbalt Health Monitor System. Logistic regression was used to assess the effect of self-perceived health status on prevalence of health behaviours. RESULTS: In Finland both women and men rated their health better than both genders in all the Baltic countries. In Finland self-assessment of health is significantly associated with most health behaviours, but in the Baltic counties the associations are weak or unstable. CONCLUSION: The results suggest that in Finland as in many other stable countries self-assessed health status was related to health behaviours and can be used as an indicator of health behaviours. In the Baltic countries, factors other than health behaviours may be more relevant to the self assessment of health status.

Eur J Public Health. 2004 Mar ;14 (1):32-6