Estonian Women's Health Study in 2004, 2014 and 2024

According to the World Health Organization’s working definition, sexual health is “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity.” Regarding sexual health, women have special needs, concerns and risks, which have to be taken into account when planning prevention and intervention strategies. 

For this reason, a group of scientists in the University of Tartu have carried out a women’s health study in 2004 and 2014. In 2024, the study will be carried out for the third time. The goal of the study is to evaluate the sexual and reproductive health and behaviour of women in Estonia in order to make to more evidence-based decisions in healthcare. The studies provide information about topics that are not routinely collected (e.g. contraceptive methods, the prevalence of infertility and violence, sexual health care services, etc). The cross-sectional data is acquired by sending questionnaires to randomly selected female members of the national population register. 

Estonian Women’s Health Study in 2004

The questionnaire for the first Estonian Women’s Health Study was created in collaboration with Estonian, Finnish and Russian scientists to enable international comparison of the collected results. In Estonia, the questionnaire was sent out and returned in 2004-2005. The sample size was 5190 women, the response rate was 53,8%. The data gathered from 2672 women was used to produce the final study results. The study was funded by the Estonian Science Foundation, Finland’s National Research and Development Centre, the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research and the Baltic Sea Task Force. 

The 2004 Women’s Health Study report can be accessed here.

Estonian Women’s Health Study in 2014

In the year 2014, the group of scientists in the University of Tartu carried out another research project named “Risk factors, tendencies, prevention and intervention strategies of sexual health among the female population of Estonia (ESTRE)”. The project was similar to the Estonian Women’s Health Study carried out in 2004. The main purpose of the study was to evaluate the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of women in Estonia, using the results of the 2004 study as a comparison. This survey provided the first opportunity to analyse the changes during the last decade in women’s SRH, thus helping to develop evidence-based methods for prevention and intervention. The questionnaires were posted in 2014 to a sample size of 5233 women. The response rate was 47,0%. The final results were produced on the basis of 2413 questionnaires.

The project was funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Estonian Research Council project TerVe.

The 2014 Women’s Health Study report can be accessed here.

Estonian Women’s Health Study in 2024

The „Estonian Women’s Health Study 2024: sexual and reproductive health, behaviour, attitudes and use of healthcare services” is to be carried out by largely the same study group.

The main goal of the study is to evaluate the sexual and reproductive health of women in Estonia aged 16–59 and the factors related to it. The data from 2024 will be compared to 2014 and 2004 to provide information about the changes that have occurred in the last 20 years. An anonymous virtual questionnaire will be sent to a sample size of up to 12 456 women via email addresses gathered from the national population register. The personal information is anonymous and will not be used for any other studies.

The questionnaire will be hosted in the virtual environment of REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) and can be filled in either in Estonian or Russian. REDCap is a secure web application for building and managing online surveys and databases. All personal information collected from the population registry will be deleted after sending the final reminder, no later than the 30th of June 2024.

The Estonian Women´s Health Study 2024 will be conducted by the Women’s Clinic of the Institute of Clinical Medicine of the University of Tartu. It is financed by the Ministry of Social Affairs. The study design has been approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the University of Tartu.