Trends of mortality in Greece 1980-2007: a focus on avoidable mortality

Hippokratia 2011; 15(4):330-334

M. Ollandezos, Th. Constantinidis, K. Athanasakis, CH. Lionis, J. Kyriopoulos


Background: Avoidable mortality (AM) refers to deaths from certain conditions considered avoidable given timely and effective health care. AM rates in Greece between 1980 and 2007 were examined in order to investigate the extent to which health care has contributed to the decline in mortality rates in Greece over recent decades and detect possible shortcomings in the Greek healthcare system.
Methods: Mortality data from the General Secretariat of the National Statistic Service were used. The list of avoidable conditions was the basis of the analysis in which avoidable deaths were classified into conditions amenable to medical care (treatable avoidable mortality) and conditions responsive to health policy (preventable avoidable mortality). Ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was examined separately following relevant studies. Age standardized mortality rates were calculated according to the European Community standard population.
Results: A steady decline of the percentage of AM over all-cause mortality was documented (1980-1984:27%; 2000-2007:22.9%). AM rate fell by 30.5% (1980-1984:217.4/100,000 population; 2000-2007: 151.1/100,000). Treatable mortality rate fell by 48.1%, marking the largest contribution to the decline in AM (1980-1984:110.9/100,000; 2000- 2007:57.5/100,000). Ischaemic heart disease death rate fell by 13.1% (1980-1984:52.7/100,000; 2000 2007:45.8/100,000). Preventable mortality rates fell by 11%, marking a modest contribution to the decline in AM (1980-1984: 53.7/100,000; 2000-2007: 47.8/100,000).
Conclusions: Trends in AM in Greece between 1980-2007 were similar to those of other European countries, with Greece performing particularly well with respect to treatable mortality. Although the decline in AM may also reflect changes in factors that influence mortality, such as disease occurrence, environment and socioeconomic conditions, they are suggestive of the health care system being an important determinant of health improvements in Greece during the recent decades. Further studies are needed in order to access the quality of care and to examine the structure and adequacy of health care in Greece.