The healthiest Finns live in Ostrobothnia, Uusimaa and Helsinki regions while the unhealthiest people live in North Savo and North Karelia, according to the National Health Index published by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).
Incapacity for work is highest in North Savo, Kainuu and North Ostrobothnia and lowest in Uusimaa, said THL in a press release on Wednesday, quoting the Index published for the first time, which are based on the register data for 2019–2021.
The indexes and their different areas comprehensively describe the prevalence of diseases and incapacity for work in the wellbeing services counties in relation to Finland’s population.
Differences in morbidity between the wellbeing services counties are particularly evident in the prevalence of severe mental health problems, alcohol-related diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and coronary artery disease in relation to the national average.
The number of mental health and musculoskeletal disorders was clearly higher in North Savo in comparison to other regions and to the national level.
Alcohol-related morbidity was highest in North Karelia and clearly higher than in other regions also in South Karelia. Coronary artery disease was also more common in South Karelia than in other regions.
The new index on incapacity for work included in the National Health Index describes regional differences related to disability pension, sickness allowance and vocational rehabilitation.
The share of those on disability pension was highest in Kainuu, North Savo and North Ostrobothnia. Receiving sickness allowance for more than 3 months is most common in Central Ostrobothnia, Kainuu and North Ostrobothnia.
The share of those granted vocational rehabilitation was highest in North Karelia, North Savo and South Savo and lowest in Eastern Uusimaa and Helsinki.
“There are differences between regions in terms of work capacity and access to incapacity benefits. The index reflects the work capacity of the population, but it is also affected by the availability of services. Applying for vocational rehabilitation depends on, among other things, how easy it is to access social and health services, how actively clients are directed to rehabilitation services and how different rehabilitation services are available. In particular, the question is whether there are enough physicians in the region, as you need to have a medical certificate to receive incapacity benefits. If there is a shortage of physicians in the region, the implementation of vocational rehabilitation is limited,” said Kati Sarnola, Senior Researcher of national social insurance institution-Kela.
There are many factors behind morbidity and incapacity for work.
“In addition to services, regional differences are caused by a variety of factors, such as lifestyle, employment and economic situation as well as education. Cultural and genetic factors also play a role,” Sarnola said.
The National Health Index dataset describes the burden caused by diseases in the wellbeing services counties.
The burden is assessed through mortality, disability pensions, quality of life impacts and costs for each disease group.
“The index data can be used in the planning and evaluation of measures that promote social and health services, social benefits and well-being as well as health and safety,” said Päivikki Koponen, Docent, Chief Specialist of THL.
- Healthiest regions