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Trends in Belgian premature avoidable deaths over a 20 year period
  1. P C Humblet,
  2. R Lagasse,
  3. A Levêque
  1. Department of Health Policies and Health System Research, School of Public Health, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), 808, route de Lennik, B-1070, Brussels, Belgium
  1. Dr Humblet (phumblet{at}


STUDY OBJECTIVES To analyse over a 20 year period the level and trends in the “EC avoidable death indicators”.

DESIGN The Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) method applied to curative and preventive avoidable mortality indicators in Belgium for four successive five year periods, countrywide as well as by district, separately for women and men. Ratios of YPLL rates (age standardised) describe changes between 1974–78 and 1990–94.

SETTING Belgium for the periods 1974–78, 1980–84, 1985–89, 1990–94.

PARTICIPANTS All avoidable death cases aged 1–64.

MAIN RESULTS Ratio of YPLL rates indicated a more favourable development between 1974–78 and 1990–94 in the EC avoidable indicators than in all causes premature mortality. The EC avoidable mortality indicators have been assigned to two categories, curative indicators and preventive indicators. The best ratio of YPLL rates was found in curative indicators for men but the largest gains in YPLL rates over the periods come from the “preventive indicators” in men. For women, malignant neoplasm of the breast rose to the first ranked in 1985–1989 and 1990–1994, where it contributed to more years of YPLL loss than motor vehicle accidents, and malignant neoplasm of the trachea, bronchus and lung had risen to the fifth ranked since 1985–89. The order of the top causes for men did not change between 1974 and 1994, except for cirrhosis of liver, which rose from the fifth to the fourth rank. In the particular case of one “preventive indicator”, malignant neoplasm of the trachea, bronchus and lung, the regional analysis of time trend between 1974–78 and 1990–94 showed more districts with a favourable development for both men and women in the Flemish region than in Wallonia.

CONCLUSION The YPLL method combined with the avoidable mortality indicators enabled us to compare the changes of curative and preventive EC avoidable indicators between 1974–78 and 1990–94. In the case of malignant neoplasm of the trachea, bronchus and lung, which is of major concern to the health promotion policies, changes over the periods have widened a “north/south” health contrast.

  • avoidable mortality
  • YPLL
  • Belgium

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  • Funding: funding for this study was provided by the French speaking Community, Belgium.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.