News ESS

Published on April 15th, 2013


The New Health Module in the European Social Survey

By Terje A. Eikemo

At each round of the survey, multi-national teams of researchers are selected to contribute to the design of two rotating modules for the questionnaire of the European Social Survey. Rotating modules are selected by means of a Call for Proposals placed in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) and circulated via the European Science Foundation and relevant National Science Foundations. Applicants may apply for “new” or “repeat” modules.

Previous rotating modules have been on the following topics:

–        2002/03 (two modules)

  • Citizenship, Involvement and Democracy (50 items)
  •  Immigration (50 items)

–        2004/05 (three modules)

  • Family, work and well-being (60 items); Opinions on health and care seeking (30 items) and Economic Morality in Europe: Market, Society and Citizenship (30 items)

–        2006/07  (two modules)

  • Personal & Social Well-being: Creating indicators for a flourishing Europe (50 items)
  • The Timing of Life: The organisation of the life course in Europe (50 items)

–        2008/09 (two modules)

  • Experiences and Expressions of Ageism (50 items)
  • Welfare attitudes in a changing Europe (50 items)

–        2010/11 (two modules)

  • Europeans’ understandings and evaluations of democracy
  • Personal and Social Well-being

Against this background the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have set up an international team with the aim to establish a new health module into the European Social Survey (ESS). The work with the application started in 2009 and lasted almost four years.

The applicants derive from the fields of political science, sociology, medicine, and health policy. The module, which will be available in November 2015, contains a broader set of health determinants and more nuanced health outcomes, which are needed to further develop a cross-national macrosociology of population health.

The objective has been to establish a comprehensive and comparative pan-European data set on the social determinants of health and health inequalities, to use the data set to compare the influence of different European policy regimes, and to test theories of health and health inequalities for a range of health outcomes.

The European Social Survey has proven to be ideal for this purpose as political, social, and material variables already exist in the survey. By including behavioural, life-course related and psychosocial health determinants together with an extensive set of health outcomes, the ESS will strengthen its position tremendously as the main data source for European cross-national analyses of health inequalities.

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