Population Health and the Health System: A Comparative Analysis of Avoidable Mortality in Three Nations and Their World Cities
Background: Access to timely and effective medical services can reduce rates of premature mortality attributed to certain conditions. We investigate rates of total and avoidable mortality (AM) and the percentage of avoidable deaths in France, England and Wales and the United States, three wealthy nations with different health systems, and in the urban cores of their world cities, Paris, Inner London and Manhattan. We examine the association between AM and an income-related variable among neighbourhoods of the three cities. Methods: We obtained mortality data from vital statistics sources for each geographic area. For two time-periods, 1988–90 and 1998–2000, we assess the correlation between area of residence and age- and gender-adjusted total and AM rates. In our comparison of world cities, regression models are employed to analyse the association of a neighbourhood income-related variable with AM. Results: France has the lowest mortality rates. The US exhibits higher total, but similar AM rates compared to England and Wales. Rates of AM are lowest in Paris and highest in London. Avoidable mortality rates are higher in poor neighbourhoods of all three cities; only in Manhattan is there a correlation between the percentage of deaths that are avoidable and an income related variable. Conclusions: Beyond the well-known association of income and mortality, persistent disparities in AM exist, particularly in Manhattan and Inner London. These disparities are disturbing and should receive greater attention from policy makers.