Evaluation of the Biases in the Studies that Assess the Effects of the Great Recession on Health. A Systematic Review.

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Our main objective was to evaluate the fundamental biases detected in studies assessing the effects the Great Recession had on health for the case of Spain. As secondary objectives we presented methods to control these biases and to discuss the results of the studies in question if they had controlled for them. We carried out a systematic review of the literature published up to June 2018. We evaluated the biases that could have happened in all the eligible studies. From the review, we finally selected 53 studies. Of the studies we reviewed, 60.38% or 32 out of 53, were evaluated as having a high risk of bias. The main biases our review revealed were problems with evaluation, time bias, lack of control of unobserved confounding, and non-exogeneity when defining the onset of the Great Recession. The results from the studies that controlled the biases were quite consistent. Summing up, the studies reviewed found that the Great Recession increased the risk of declaring poor self-rated health and the deterioration of mental health. Both the mortality rate and the suicide rate may well have increased after the Great Recession, probably after a three- to four-year delay.
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bias, evaluation problem, great recession, health, time bias