APH 2005, 63, 107-126:

Composite health measures in Belgium based on the 2001 census.

H. Van Oyen, N. Bossuyt, L. Bellamammer, P. Deboosere, S. Demarest, V. Lorant, PJ Miermans

Keywords: Health expectancy, Life expectancy, Disability free life expectancy, Morbidity free live expectancy, Healthy life expectancy, Belgium

Objective: The objective of the paper is to present the health status of the population using a set of composite health measures. Health
expectancy indicators are calculated: healthy life expectancy (HE), the life expectancy free of chronic morbidity (MFLE) and the disability free life expectancy (DFLE). A severity level (moderate (MDLE) and severe (SDLE)) is considered for the expected years with disability.

Methods: The Sullivan method was used to calculate the health expectancies. The health questions in the 2001 census include information on subjective health, the presence of longstanding diseases and restriction in daily activities. The total variance of the health expectancy estimates, taking into account the variance related to the mortality and the variance due to the census data, was estimated.

Results: At birth, the life expectancy (LE) for females is 81.7 years. The HE, MFLE and DFLE are respectively 59.5, 63.4 and 66.1 years. The MDLE and SDLE are 7.8 and 7.7 years. The LE for males is 75.4 years with a HE, MFLE and DFLE of respectively 58.0, 59.7 and 62.8 years. The years with moderate and severe disability are 6.6 and 6.0 years. In all regions, women live longer than men and can expect to live more years in good health. They live on average more years in bad subjective health, with longstanding morbidity and with moderate and severe disability. At birth the health status is worse in the Walloon Region. There they experience a shorter life with fewer years in good health and have more years to live with ill health. A similar but smaller difference is observed comparing the Brussels Region to the Flemish Region. However at older ages the different health indicators are more favourable in the Brussels Region.

Conclusion: Health expectancy indicators are summary measures of the current health of a population. They allow to assess and monitor patterns of health and to identify differences by gender and by region.