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Austerity, Economic Hardship and Access to Medications: A Repeated Cross-Sectional Population Survey Study, 2013-2020

Julkaistu 24.1.2023



In Finland, austerity measures included an increase in medication and healthcare copayments and a decrease in many social security allowances. This study examines whether austerity coincided with an increase in socioeconomic inequality in access to medications (going short of medications because of lack of money) and whether medication access problems increased more than other forms of economic hardship (going short of food or physician visits).


Pooled cross-sectional population surveys collected in 2013-2015, 2018 and 2020 (n=139 324) and multinomial logistic regression, with interaction between study year and economic activity (EA) (full-time work vs part-time work/retirement; old age retirement; unemployment; disability/illness; family; student), were used to estimate the effect of EA on the probability of experiencing economic hardship (no hardship/hardship including medication problems/hardship excluding medication problems) and how it varies across years.


Working-age adults outside full-time employment have a higher risk of economic hardship than full-time workers, and old age retirees have a lower risk. In 2018, when austerity was most pronounced, economic hardship including medication problems increased for the disabled/ill (women and men), unemployed (women) and part-time workers/retirees (men), significantly more than for full-time workers. Hardship excluding medication access problems either decreased or remained unchanged.


Austerity coincided with increasing economic hardship among vulnerable groups, thus exacerbating socioeconomic inequalities. Strengthening the role for medication access problems suggests that medication copayment increases contributed to this accumulating disadvantage.

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Katri Aaltonen

Lisätietoja julkaisusta

  • Vertaisarvioitu: kyllä.
  • Avoin saatavuus: kyllä.
  • Koko viite: Aaltonen, K. (2023). Austerity, economic hardship and access to medications: a repeated cross-sectional population survey study, 2013-2020. Journal of epidemiology and community health, 77(3), 160-167.

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