Austria is looking for a strategy in the fight against diabetes, depression, COPD & Co.

Vienna. Life expectancy in Austria is relatively high, around 84 years for women and 79 years for men, but the number of healthy life years spent at 58 and 57 is well below the European average. 65 and 64 years respectively.

To raise this average, the Austrian Institute for Health Technology Assessment (AIHTA) has now taken up the cause of analyzing national strategies and programs for the prevention and management of noncommunicable diseases in different countries in order to derive recommendations of health policy for action for Austria. According to the AIHTA, national strategies and programs should create framework conditions for a health-friendly living and working environment for the population.

For years, the greatest health policy challenge has been noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease (COPD and others) or depression. This fact is said to have faded into the background, especially during the corona pandemic.

18 strategies examined

In a study, the AIHTA has now analyzed national strategies and programs for the prevention and management of NCD. A total of 18 strategies from Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland, Great Britain, Canada and Australia were considered.

In addition, the evaluation results of a total of eleven programs were analyzed on the basis of 21 scientific articles. Most studies have shown positive effects on mortality, burden of disease, quality of life, self-management or health literacy, but due to the heterogeneity of the included studies and the partially low level of evidence, no evaluation conclusive effectiveness of the programs examined could be derived.

However, the AIHTA has developed recommendations: health promotion measures should start in early childhood and take into account social factors influencing health with a “health in all policies” approach.

According to the AIHTA report, it is also important that successful NCD strategies plan evaluation before programs and measures are implemented. Germany, for example, has legally established an obligation to evaluate disease management programs. However, neighbors have the problem that studies on the effectiveness of these programs are often not very meaningful.

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