International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 56, Issue 5, pp 533–539 | Cite as

Ethnic differences in diabetes-related mortality in the Brussels-Capital Region (2001–05): the role of socioeconomic position

  • Hadewijch VandenheedeEmail author
  • Lies Lammens
  • Patrick Deboosere
  • Sylvie Gadeyne
  • Myriam De Spiegelaere
Original Article



To examine if and to what extent ethnic differences in diabetes-related mortality are associated with differences in education and housing status.


The data consist of a cohort study linking the 2001 census to emigration and mortality data for the period 2001–05. The study population comprises all Belgian and North African inhabitants of the Brussels-Capital Region (BCR) aged 25–74. Age-standardized mortality rates (ASMRs) (direct standardization) and mortality rate ratios (MRRS) (Poisson regression) are computed.


North Africans have a higher diabetes-related mortality compared to Belgians. The ASMRs for North African and Belgian women are 54.8 (95% confidence interval (CI) 31.5–78.2) and 23.8 (95% CI 20.3–27.3), respectively. These differences in diabetes-related mortality largely disappear when differences in education are taken into account. The MRRs for North African versus Belgian origin drop from 1.62 (95% CI 1.11–2.37) to 1.19 (95% CI 0.73–1.93) in men and from 3.35 (95% CI 2.08–5.41) to 1.88 (95% CI 0.95–3.69) in women.


Differences in education play an important part in the excess diabetes-related mortality among North Africans in the BCR.


Ethnicity Socioeconomic position Education Housing status Inequality Diabetes-related mortality 



This research was funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (Ph.D. and Postdoctoral fellowship) and by the research council of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Geconcerteerde OnderzoeksActie (GOA no 55)).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hadewijch Vandenheede
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Lies Lammens
    • 1
  • Patrick Deboosere
    • 1
  • Sylvie Gadeyne
    • 1
    • 3
  • Myriam De Spiegelaere
    • 2
  1. 1.Interface Demography, Department of Social Research, Faculty of Economic, Political and Social Sciences and Solvay Business SchoolVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Brussels-Capital Health and Social ObservatoryBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Research Foundation–FlandersBrusselsBelgium

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