A significant majority of Hamburg residents are convinced that we can each do a lot to maintain or improve our own health. These are just some of the results of a survey of more conducted among more than 1,800 adults aged under 60 in Hamburg by the Department of Health and Consumer Protection. The new survey comprises comprehensive data on health, health-related attitudes, and behaviour.
“There are many facets to health and to the population’s personal sense of health. The question as to how one feels, for example, can not be answered by anyone else. The same goes for the question as to making use of screening services,” says Health Minister, Senator Cornelia Pruefer-Storcks. “We wanted to find out the attitudes to health that guide the personal decisions of men and women, young and old, when it comes to behaviour that presents potential health risks. Individual resources which can contribute to a health-conscious lifestyle also play a role here. The answers provided in Hamburg, and comparisons with data from across the country, can now inform and guide the work of those involved in promoting public health.”
Some of the report’s key findings:
- More than half of Hamburg residents surveyed take care of their health, even when they are not ill.
- Socio-economic status is as important in determining the course of illness as age. A lower socio-economic status, for example, is more frequently accompanied by health problems, and the medical system is more frequently used.
- Every second Hamburg resident states that s/he places a lot of importance on adequate physical activity. One in four, however, is physically active for less than 150 minutes per week, thus falling short of the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Target-group insights from the report:
- Men consider themselves healthier than women do. They tend, however, to ignore the services offered by the medical health system. In comparison to women, they are twice as likely to be overweight, and are more likely to exhibit behaviour with associated health risks (e.g. excessive or too frequent consumption of alcohol).
- Women acknowledge more complaints and feel unwell significantly more frequently. The burden of family responsibilities is an identifiable risk factor which affects women twice as often and is is often associated with poor general health. Women act in a health-conscious way, e.g. by attending annual dental check-ups, more often than men.
- Migrants make less frequent use of the health system, e.g. by attending cancer screening programmes, than people without a migrant background. According to their own statements, they are also less well-equipped to maintain or improve their health, for example through lack of social support. On the other hand, the dietary behaviour of migrants is a strong protective factor, with migrants significantly more likely to adhere to the recommendation of “five portions a day” of fruit and vegetables. Dangerous levels of alcohol consumption are also significantly less common amongst migrants.
The report on health in people is based on a survey conducted in Hamburg in the summer of 2011, with additional data from sources such as the Robert Koch Institute, the German Federal Statistics Office, health insurance companies, and the German Cancer Research Center. It will soon be available online at www.hamburg.de/gesundheitsberichte/.
Department of Health and Consumer Protection