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Phd ceremony Ms. M. Behanova: Area- and individual-level socioeconomic differences in health and health-risk behaviours. A comparison of Slovak and Dutch cities

When:Tu 24-06-2014 10:00 - 11:00

This thesis assesses urban health differences in two countries, Slovakia and the Netherlands. We studied the association between neighbourhood-level and individual-level socioeconomic characteristics and self-rated health, mental health and health-risk behaviours among adults (19-64 years olds) and elderly (65 years olds and above), using data from the FP7 EURO-URHIS 2 project. We observed that poor self-rated health, mental health problems, overweight, binge drinking and physical inactivity occurred more frequently in more socioeconomically deprived areas in the 19-64 years age group in the Netherlands but not in Slovakia. Most of these area effects were due to the individual socioeconomic status of the residents, but the context seems to add to health problems, too. In Slovakia, we did not find any area health differences in either of the mentioned age groups. However, Slovak residents generally had a higher risk for most of the studied adverse outcomes. In Slovakia the context of cities seems not to influence the health of residents; there it may be relevant to use public health strategies aimed at promoting healthy lifestyle at the community level in any type of neighbourhood. In the Netherlands, an effect of area deprivation on health was found; this supports to use public health strategies that in particular focus on mental well-being and risky behaviours in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. The greatest gains in public health could be reached, if the urban context as well as the individual context are taken into account.

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