OBJECTIVES: We examined the association between unemployment and government spending on healthcare with colorectal cancer mortality. METHODS: Retrospective observational study using data from the World Bank and WHO. Multivariate regression analysis was used, controlling for country-specific differences in infrastructure and demographics. RESULTS: A 1 % increase in unemployment was associated with a significant increase in colorectal cancer mortality in both men and women [men: coefficient (R) = 0.0995, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.0132-0.1858, P = 0.024; women: R = 0.0742, 95 % CI 0.0160-0.1324, P = 0.013]. A 1 % increase in government spending on healthcare was associated with a statistically significant decrease in colorectal cancer mortality across both sexes (men: R = -0.4307, 95 % CI -0.6057 to -0.2557, P < 0.001; women: R = -0.2162, 95 % CI -0.3407 to -0.0917, P = 0.001). The largest changes in mortality occurred 3-4 years following changes in either economic variable. CONCLUSIONS: Unemployment rises are associated with a significant increase in colorectal cancer mortality, whilst government healthcare spending rises are associated with falling mortality. This is likely due, in part, to reduced access to healthcare services and has major implications for clinicians and policy makers alike.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Public Health

Publication Date





119 - 130


Cancer mortality, Colorectal cancer, European Union, Healthcare spending, Unemployment, Colorectal Neoplasms, Early Detection of Cancer, European Union, Female, Financing, Government, Health Expenditures, Humans, Male, Public Sector, Regression Analysis, Retrospective Studies, Unemployment