Health-behaviour inequalities among Russian and ethnic majority school-aged children in the Baltic countries

Linas Šumskas, Apolinaras Zaborskis, Katrin Aasvee, Inese Gobina, Iveta Pudule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Aims: The main aim of this paper was to investigate whether ethnic heath inequalities exist in self-rated health and risk-taking behaviours (smoking, drunkenness, use of cannabis) between ethnic majority (Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian) and minority (Russian) population groups of school-aged children in three Baltic countries. Methods: Investigation was carried out in the framework of Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study. Randomly selected students aged 11, 13, and 15 years answered questionnaires in the classroom in 2006. In total, 14,354 questionnaire forms were selected for analysis. Results: Russian boys were more likely (p<0.05) to evaluate their self-rated health positively in schools with Russian teaching language. Odd ratios for current smoking and drunkenness were significantly lower among Russian boys in the schools with Russian language of instruction (p<0.05) in comparison with the reference group. Russian girls did not differ significantly (the exceptions were smoking in Estonia and cannabis use in Latvia) from the majority population girls by self-rated health as well as by the risk of smoking, drunkenness, and use of cannabis. Conclusions: The study found some differences in self-rated health and in risk-taking behaviours between Russian minority and ethnic majority students as well as between students of schools with different language of instruction (majority language vs. Russian) in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Being a member of minority group was not related with poor self-rated health or involvement in risk-taking behaviours in school-aged children in the Baltic countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-562
Number of pages10
JournalScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • Alcohol
  • cannabis
  • ethnic minorities
  • health inequalities
  • migrants
  • school-aged children
  • self-rated health
  • smoking

Field of Science*

  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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