Cognitive Determinants of Healthcare Evaluations – A Comparison of Eastern and Western European Countries
Knowing the public opinion of healthcare is essential when assessing healthcare system performance; but little research has focussed on the links between the public's general attitude to the healthcare system and its perceptions and expectations of specific healthcare-related aspects. Using data from the fourth round of the European Social Survey 2008/09, we explore the cognitive determinants of global evaluations of the healthcare system in 12 Eastern and 16 Western European countries. We find that healthcare evaluations follow a coherent cognitive reasoning. They are associated with (i) perceptions of the performance of healthcare systems (i.e. efficiency, equality of treatment, health outcomes), (ii) expectations of the government's role in providing healthcare, and (iii) reflections on demographic pressures (i.e. aging populations). Contrary to the general assumption that normative expectations are responsible for differences in healthcare evaluations between Eastern and Western Europe, our results suggest that regional differences are largely due to a more negative perception of the performance of healthcare systems within Eastern Europe. To enhance the public opinion of healthcare, policy makers should improve the efficiency of healthcare systems and take measures to assure equality in health treatment.