Determinants of health disparities between Italian regions

BMC Public Health. 2010 Jun 1;10:296. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-10-296.


Background: Among European countries, Italy is one of the countries where regional health disparities contribute substantially to socioeconomic health disparities. In this paper, we report on regional differences in self-reported poor health and explore possible determinants at the individual and regional levels in Italy.

Methods: We use data from the "Indagine Multiscopo sulle Famiglie", a survey of aspects of everyday life in the Italian population, to estimate multilevel logistic regressions that model poor self-reported health as a function of individual and regional socioeconomic factors. Next we use the causal step approach to test if living conditions, healthcare characteristics, social isolation, and health behaviors at the regional level mediate the relationship between regional socioeconomic factors and self-rated health.

Results: We find that residents living in regions with more poverty, more unemployment, and more income inequality are more likely to report poor health and that poor living conditions and private share of healthcare expenditures at the regional level mediate socioeconomic disparities in self-rated health among Italian regions.

Conclusion: The implications are that regional contexts matter and that regional policies in Italy have the potential to reduce health disparities by implementing interventions aimed at improving living conditions and access to quality healthcare.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Factors