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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

The joint action on healthy life years (JA: EHLEIS)

Jean-Marie Robine1*, Emmanuelle Cambois2, Wilma Nusselder3, Bernard Jeune4, Herman Van Oyen5, Carol Jagger6 and the JA: EHLEIS team

Author Affiliations

1 French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, INSERM U988 & U710, Paris & Montpellier, France

2 French National Institute for Demographic Studies, INED, Paris, France

3 Erasmus Medical Center, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands

4 University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

5 Scientific Institute of Public Health, Brussels, Belgium

6 Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

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Archives of Public Health 2013, 71:2  doi:10.1186/0778-7367-71-2

Published: 4 February 2013

Abstract

Background

Life expectancy has been increasing during the last century within the European Union (EU). To measure progress in population health it is no longer sufficient to focus on the duration of life but quality of life should be considered. Healthy Life Years (HLY) allow estimating the quality of the remaining years that a person is expected to live, in terms of being free of long-standing activity limitation. The Joint Action on Healthy Life Years (JA: EHLEIS) is a joint action of European Member States (MS) and the European Union aiming at analysing trends, patterns and differences in HLY, as well as in other Summary Measures of Population Health (SMPH) indicators, across the European member states.

Methods

The JA: EHLEIS consolidates existing information on life and health expectancy by maximising the European comparability; by analysing trends in HLY within the EU; by analysing the evolution of the differences in HLY between Member States; and by identifying both macro-level as micro-level determinants of the inequalities in HLY. The JA: EHLEIS works in collaboration with the USA, Japan and OECD on the development of new SMPHs to be used globally. To strengthen the utility of the HLY for policy-making, annual meetings with policy-makers are planned.

Results

The information system allows the estimation of a set of health indicators (morbidity and disability prevalence, life and health expectancies) for Europe, Member States and shortly their regional levels. An annual country report on HLY in the national languages is available. The JA: EHLEIS is developing statistical attribution and decomposition tools which will be helpful to determine the impact of specific diseases, life styles or other determinants on differences in HLY. Through a set of international workshops the JA: EHLEIS aims to develop a blueprint for an international harmonized Summary Measure of Population Health.

Conclusion

The JA: EHLEIS objectives are to monitor progress towards the headline target of the Europe 2020 strategy of increasing HLY by 2 years by 2020 and to support policy development by identifying the main determinants of active and healthy ageing in Europe.

Keywords:
Health status indicators; Gender; Socioeconomic status; Public health; Health expectancy; Healthy life years; EU