National health interview surveys in Europe: an overview

Health Policy. 1999 May;47(2):145-68. doi: 10.1016/s0168-8510(99)00015-9.


In order to study the value of national health interview surveys for national and international research and policy activities, this paper examines the existence and content of recent and future health interview surveys in the 15 member states of the European Union (EU), Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. National health interview surveys are performed in most countries, but not in Greece (only regional surveys), Luxembourg, Ireland and Iceland (only multi-purpose surveys). The health interview surveys in the other 14 countries provide regular data on the main health topics. Of the 14 health topics that are examined in this inventory seven are measured in all countries. Questions on health status (e.g. self-assessed health, long-term physical disability, and height and weight) and medical consumption (e.g. consultations with the general practitioner, GP) are often included. Lifestyle topics are less often included, except smoking habits, information about which is sought in all countries. Topics like diet and drugs/narcotics are more often included in special surveys than in general health interview surveys. Despite differences in the content, frequency and methodology of national health interview surveys in different countries, these surveys are a valuable source of information on the health of Europeans.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • European Union
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Iceland
  • Life Style
  • Norway
  • Switzerland