The evolving pattern of avoidable mortality in Russia

Andreev, EM; Nolte, E; Shkolnikov, VM; Varavikova, E; McKee, M; (2003) The evolving pattern of avoidable mortality in Russia. International journal of epidemiology, 32 (3). pp. 437-446. ISSN 0300-5771 DOI:

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BACKGROUND: Life expectancy at birth in Russia is over 12 years less than in western Europe. This study explores the possible role of medical care in explaining this gap by examining the evolving pattern of mortality amenable to timely and effective medical care in Russia compared with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and the UK. METHODS: Analysis of standardized death rates from causes amenable to health care (treatable) or inter-sectoral health policies (preventable) in all regions and decomposition of differences in life expectancy between Russia and the UK by age, sex, and cause of death for the period 1965-1999/2000. RESULTS: Death rates from treatable causes remained stable between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s in Russia and the Baltic republics while steadily falling in the UK to less than half the rate in Russia. In the 1990s, rates increased in the former Soviet republics, reaching a peak in 1994 but reversing again in Russia in 1998. Deaths from causes amenable to inter-sectoral health interventions were higher in the UK in 1965 than in the Soviet Union but subsequently fell steadily while they increased in the East. Between 1965 and 1999, the male life expectancy gap between Russia and the UK rose from 3.6 to 15.1 years (women: 1.6 and 7.4 years). Treatable causes became an increasingly important contributor to this gap, accounting for almost 3 years by the end of the 1990s in men and 2 years in women. In Russia, elimination of treatable causes of death would have increased life expectancy by 2.9 years in men in 1995/99 compared with 1.2 years in the UK (women: 3.3 and 1.8 years), suggesting that, were the outcomes of health care achieved in the UK to be obtained in Russia, life expectancy for men might improve by about 1.7 years and for women by about 1.5 years. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that the Soviet health care system has failed to match the achievements of the West over the past three decades, highlighting the need to establish a system that provides effective and equitable care for the Russian population.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Health Services Research and Policy
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology
Research Centre: Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)
PubMed ID: 12777433
Web of Science ID: 183874800023


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