Background: The EQ-5D questionnaire is an instrument for describing and valuing health states.
Objectives: To compare general population health status measured by the EQ-5D in 6 European countries.
Methods: In the European Study of the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders representative population samples in Belgium (n = 2411), France (n = 2892), Germany (n = 3552), Italy (n = 4709), the Netherlands (n = 2367), and Spain (n = 5473) completed the EQ-5D as part of personal computer-based home interviews in 2001 to 2003.
Results: Of all respondents, 35.1% reported problems in one or more EQ-5D dimensions, most frequently pain/discomfort (28.5%), followed by mobility (13.6%), usual activities (10.5%), anxiety/depression (8.0%), and self-care (3.6%). Proportions of respondents reporting any problems differed significantly between countries, ranging from 26.6% in Spain to 44.5% in France. Mean EQ VAS score was 77.1, ranging from 75.0 in Spain to 82.0 in the Netherlands. After adjusting for sociodemographic variables, the proportion of respondents reporting problems in any of the EQ-5D dimensions was significantly higher in France and lower in Spain and Italy than the grand mean. Even after controlling for reported EQ-5D health states, mean EQ VAS scores were significantly higher in the Netherlands and lower in Spain than the grand mean. Age, female gender, low educational level, lack of paid employment, and low income were associated with more problems in most of the EQ-5D dimensions and lower EQ VAS scores.
Conclusions: Self-reported EQ-5D health status differed considerably between countries, calling for caution when making international comparisons of disease burden and health care effectiveness.