Author(s): Costa G, Marra M, Salmaso S Gruppo AIE s
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Abstract SCOPE: to estimate for the first time in Italy the consequences of the national current economic crisis on health and on social determinants of health, assessing its impact on a set of distal determinants (development and economic wellbeing, labour and environment) and of prossimal ones (material, psychosocial, professional, environmental and behavioural risk factors) on health care performance and on health outcomes normally related to economic trends, as self-perceived health, depression, number of suicides attempts, road traffic incidents and work injuries. The analysis is therefore aimed at identifying the most promising entry points in order to plan and implement either health care and other policies to tackle the negative effects of crisis on health. DESIGN: using the main international and national references on the measure of wellbeing and on the role of social determinants, this paper draws a conceptual framework of all the connections between recession and health. For each mechanism identified, it examines the value of the main available indicators before and during the crisis in order to measure its impact, adjusting if possible for the trend observed in the previous years. Indicators have been selected according to their availability in the main Italian national informative sources and, when not possible, circumscribing the analysis to the regional or local level. RESULTS: regarding the short term impact, results have shown an association between the recession and the raise of mental health related problems (measured in terms of number of suicides, depression and substance misuse), especially on the most disadvantaged groups because of their higher job and financial insecurity. A first ex-ante impact assessment on long term effects allows to attribute almost two hundred deaths a year due to the increase of unemployment rate. Regarding the budget cuts on public expenditure of the health care sector, significant reductions have been shown in specialist care and in drug prescriptions, associated with the increase of co-payment and with a stronger effect on the most vulnerable socioeconomic groups. Nevertheless the crisis does not seem to be associated with a reduction of indicators of quality, continuity and outcomes of the health care, at least in the considered clinical pathways (diabetes and maternal and child health). At the same time the crisis seems to be associated with the reduction in the rate of injuries in the workplace (although it has been observed an increase of the serious ones) and car crashes, probably explained by the reduction of industrial production and of household consumptions. CONCLUSIONS: the conceptual framework seems to be the appropriate tool to set an Italian surveillance system for assessing the short and medium term impact of crisis on health, in particular the health of the most disadvantaged groups, mainly focusing on unemployed which are the most vulnerable target.
This article was published in Epidemiol Prev
and referenced in Review of Public Administration and Management