The dynamics of empowerment measures on population health outcome and well-being

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University of New Brunswick


Health disparities among countries remain a significant population health and wellness issue (WHO, 2016). These disparities have continued to expand despite various global initiatives targeting their reduction. A report on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the United Nations (2015) found that even though countries had a standard blue print to implement MDGs, the rate of achieving these MDGs was not proportional across member countries. Empowerment levels are one of the main contributive factors of international disparities. It is hypothesized that an increase or decrease in empowerment can impact population health and well-being (Witvliet, Stronks, Kunst and Arah, 2015). This study explores the dynamics of empowerment measures on population health and well-being from over 170 countries during the period of the MDGs, between 2000 and 2015, while controlling for GDP, education and income inequality. Using descriptive statistical analysis and a multiple linear regression (p ≤ 0.1), we found that countries with high levels of various freedoms had positive significant effects on population health measures and countries with lower levels of freedoms had poor outcomes. However, contrary to expectations, high income inequality countries had higher average life expectancy, the lowest rates of infant mortality, and the highest Happy Planet Index results. Nevertheless, most of the empowerment measures were associated with improved health; thus, greater recognition of the role of empowerment in influencing health and further examination of the mechanisms of influence are warranted.