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Portuguese Journal of Public Health

Print version ISSN 2504-3137On-line version ISSN 2504-3145

Abstract

SOUSA-PINTO, Bernardo; MARTINHO-DIAS, Daniel; ARAUJO, Fernando  and  COSTA-PEREIRA, Altamiro. How Does the Academic and Scientific Profile of European Health Ministers and State Secretaries Matter for Informed Decisions?. Port J Public Health [online]. 2019, vol.37, n.2-3, pp.57-65. ISSN 2504-3137.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000503569.

Background: The impact of health politicians' qualifications on healthcare quality has not been widely studied. Objectives: To assess whether academic qualifications and scientific output of European health decision makers correlate with healthcare quality, as well as with other developmental and scientific indices. Methods: We assessed the academic qualifications and scientific output of health ministers and state secretaries of EU member states. Based on the highest academic degree held, we created an academic score for each politician, and calculated the average academic score of each country's health politicians. Associations between the average academic score and public perception of healthcare quality and other developmental and scientific variables were tested by means of simple and multiple linear regression models. Results: Half of the politicians held qualifications in the field of health, followed by economics and management (37%) and social sciences (35%). Over the last 10 years, 28% politicians had authored publications indexed in Web of ScienceTM, mostly in the field of health. The average academic score of health European politicians was negatively correlated with both public perception of healthcare quality (? = –0.473; p = 0.011) and with countries' gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (? = –0.664; p < 0.001). In a multiple linear regression model, the GDP per capita was independently and negatively associated with the average academic score (p = 0.038), but the same was not observed for the public perception of healthcare quality (p = 0.722). Conclusions: While correlation does not imply causation, in European countries with higher GDP per capita, health politicians tend to be less qualified.

Keywords : Europe; Health policy; Politics; Quality of healthcare.

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