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Over-indebtedness and chronic disease: a linked register-based study of Finnish men and women during 1995–2010



More knowledge of the associations between over-indebtedness and health is needed. This study is the first longitudinal register-based study analysing long-term health consequences of severe over-indebtedness.


Adult Finnish persons, identified in 2010 as having been over-indebted for at least 15 years, were compared with matched controls (total N = 48,778). The analyses utilized register data on socio-demographic and health-related factors. Incidence of chronic disease during 1995–2010 was measured with entitlements to special reimbursement for medicines for treatment of severe and chronic diseases. Incidence of all diseases was examined, as well as incidence of hypertension, diabetes, bronchial asthma and COPD, coronary heart disease, and psychoses. Multivariate analyses were conducted with the Cox proportional hazards method.


Severe over-indebtedness was associated with increased incidence of any chronic disease, and most notably with increased risk of psychoses and diabetes. The associations were stronger among women than among men.


Over-indebtedness is associated with harmful health conditions. Policy makers should consider taking steps to prevent over-indebtedness and to increase the awareness of social and health service professionals of the problems associated with over-indebtedness.

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The study was funded by the Academy of Finland under the project Social Consequences of Economic Depressions, Grant Number 259216.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jenni Blomgren.

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Ethics statement

The study solely used secondary data retrieved from registers. Conventions of good scientific practice, data protection and information security have been applied in analysing the data and in presenting the results. The study was based on registries and thus ethics approval was not required according to Finnish law (FABRI 2015).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Blomgren, J., Maunula, N. & Hiilamo, H. Over-indebtedness and chronic disease: a linked register-based study of Finnish men and women during 1995–2010. Int J Public Health 61, 535–544 (2016).

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  • Over-indebtedness
  • Chronic disease
  • Morbidity
  • Mental health
  • Somatic health
  • Recession