Health expectancy in Greenland

Scand J Public Health. 2001 Mar;29(1):5-12. doi: 10.1177/14034948010290010501.


Background: Mortality and disease patterns in Greenland have greatly changed since the 1950s. Infectious diseases have decreased markedly; chronic diseases, suicides and violent deaths have increased.

Methods: Life tables for the period 1991-95 were used and health status was derived from the 1993/94 Greenland Health Interview Survey. Health expectancy for the Inuit population of Greenland was calculated by an index suggested by Sullivan.

Results: Greenland Inuit women live longer than men, but the expected lifetime in self-rated good health was shorter for women than for men. Chronic disease rates are high in Greenland, and consequently many healthy life years are lost, especially because of musculoskeletal diseases. Health expectancy decreases with age, but for this Inuit population the proportion of healthy life years increases after the age of 60, especially among men.

Conclusion: The many healthy life years lost in Greenland according to self-rated poor health and chronic diseases should be a cause for concern in public health planning in Greenland. Special attention should also be paid to future investigations of regional patterns of health in Greenland, since there is great population heterogeneity according to geography and urbanization.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Greenland / epidemiology
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Inuit / statistics & numerical data*
  • Life Expectancy / trends*
  • Life Tables
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence