[Source: British Medical Journal, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]
Health outcomes during the 2008 financial crisis in Europe: systematic literature review
BMJ 2016; 354 / doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i4588 / (Published 06 September 2016) / Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4588
Divya Parmar, 1, Charitini Stavropoulou, 1, John P A Ioannidis, 2
Author affiliations: 1School of Health Sciences, City University London, London EC1V 0HB, UK; 2School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
Correspondence to: C Stavropoulou C.Stavropoulou@city.ac.uk
Accepted 20 July 2016
To systematically identify, critically appraise, and synthesise empirical studies about the impact of the 2008 financial crisis in Europe on health outcomes.
Design Systematic literature review.
Data sources Structural searches of key databases, healthcare journals, and organisation based websites.
Empirical studies reporting on the impact of the financial crisis on health outcomes in Europe, published from January 2008 to December 2015, were included. All selected studies were assessed for risk of bias. Owing to the heterogeneity of studies in terms of study design and analysis and the use of overlapping datasets across studies, studies were analysed thematically per outcome, and the evidence was synthesised on different health outcomes without formal meta-analysis.
41 studies met the inclusion criteria, and focused on suicide, mental health, self rated health, mortality, and other health outcomes. Of those studies, 30 (73%) were deemed to be at high risk of bias, nine (22%) at moderate risk of bias, and only two (5%) at low risk of bias, limiting the conclusions that can be drawn. Although there were differences across countries and groups, there was some indication that suicides increased and mental health deteriorated during the crisis. The crisis did not seem to reverse the trend of decreasing overall mortality. Evidence on self rated health and other indicators was mixed.
Most published studies on the impact of financial crisis on health in Europe had a substantial risk of bias; therefore, results need to be cautiously interpreted. Overall, the financial crisis in Europe seemed to have had heterogeneous effects on health outcomes, with the evidence being most consistent for suicides and mental health. There is a need for better empirical studies, especially those focused on identifying mechanisms that can mitigate the adverse effects of the crisis.
Keywords: Research; Abstracts; Society; Public Health; Economic Recession.