Comparing health status in Belarus between 2001-2010: a novel method using surveys with different response categories

Alena Vasianovich, Neil W. Scott, William C. S. Smith, Claire D. Wallace, Ludmila L. Shebeko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Two population surveys were conducted in Belarus: The Living Conditions, Lifestyle and Health (LLH)
in 2001 (n= 2000) and The Health in Times of Transition (HITT) in 2010 (n= 1800). Each survey included a question
on health status. The LLH questionnaire provided a 4-point Verbal Response Scale, but the HITT questionnaire
used a 5-point scale. When translated into Russian, only two response categories of these scales had identical
wording. These differences made a direct comparison of self-reported health status between 2001 and 2010
difficult. Methods: We conducted a Health Category Response Scale (HCRS) survey in 2010 (n= 570) using a
100ths graduated Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) to understand how the response categories of different scales
are perceived by Russian speakers. We implemented the HCRS survey’s data to calculate the weighted health
status (WHS) for each of the original surveys and to compare health status in Belarus between 2001and 2010.
Results: The WHS in Belarus showed a small, but statistically significant, improvement of 2.9 points on a 0–100
scale between 2001 and 2010 (56.2 vs. 59.1). Identical response categories were perceived differently on a 4-point
and 5-point VAS. The category ‘good’ (‘Umomwee’) measured 12 points higher, and the category ‘bad/poor’
(‘Ojmtme’) measured 16 points lower, on the 4-point compared with the 5-point VAS. Conclusion: Our HCRS
survey and novel method enabled a direct comparison of questions with different response options. When applied
to the LLH and HITT projects, we concluded that health status in Belarus has improved between 2001 and 2010.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)840-845
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Volume23
Issue number5
Early online date29 Sep 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

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