Unmet health-care needs and mortality: A prospective cohort study from southern Sweden

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Aims: Research on the effect of unmet health-care needs on mortality at follow-up is scarce. This study investigated whether unmet health-care needs in 2008 were associated with a higher risk of mortality during a five-year follow-up period in a population in southern Sweden, and whether the association was stronger for particular subgroups of cause of death. Methods: The 2008 public-health survey in Skåne was used as baseline. The survey included variables such as unmet health-care needs, risk behaviours and social and socio-economic variables, and had 28,198 respondents aged 18–80 years. The study was longitudinal. Mortality data for the period 27 August 2008 (start of the survey) to 31 December 2013 were provided by the National Board on Health and Welfare. Analyses were run using Cox proportional hazard models. Mortality was analysed as the total and in subgroups: cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer and other causes. Results: In the time period studied, 946 (3.4%) people had died. Unmet health-care needs increased the hazard ratios (HRs) of total mortality after adjusting for age, particularly for people aged 65–80 years (HR=1.53; confidence interval 1.24–1.88). Unmet health-care needs were associated with death due to cancer and other causes but not with CVD. Adjusting for self-rated health attenuated the HRs. For the age group 18–64 years, there was no significant association between unmet health-care needs and mortality. Conclusions: Having unmet health-care needs at baseline was significantly associated with increased mortality for all causes, except CVD, in the following five year-period, particularly for people aged 65–80 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-274
Number of pages8
JournalScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
Early online date2019 Aug 13
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • longitudinal study
  • mortality
  • prospective cohort study
  • Sweden
  • Unmet health-care needs


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