What is EHES?

European Health Examination Survey (EHES) is a collaboration between organizers of national health examination surveys (HES) in Europe. EHES supports capacity building in the EU Member States and aims to ensure high quality and comparability of the surveys.

HESs include questionnaire(s) as well as physical measurements, such as blood pressure, and collection of biological samples, such as blood or urine. Initially, EHES focused on a number of core measurements related to major chronic diseases and their risk factors, and has later provided standardized procedures also for some tests of physical functioning. For other measurements, EHES provides references to existing standards and encourages collaboration between the survey organizers.

Why are HESs needed?

Information about the health and health risks of the population is one of the corner-stones of prevention of disease and disability. It is needed for evidence informed planning and evaluation of health policies and preventive activities. Health and health risks, which predict future health, are key issues for people's welfare, for keeping the work force fit and to minimize the need for health care for the aging population.

Some population level information, such as mortality, can be obtained from registries. Some can be obtained from interview surveys, such as the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS), which is coordinated by Eurostat. HESs complement registries and interview surveys by providing information on major public health problems which cannot be obtained objectively or at all from other sources. Examples of such health problems are high blood pressure, unfavourable blood cholesterols and high blood glucose, which is an indicator of diabetes. Population level information on these cannot be obtained from other data sources because many people have these conditions without being aware of having them.

Why is EHES needed?

In the background is a demand by countries and the European Commission for reliable information about the health and health risks of the population which is comparable between countries and over time within countries. The only way to achieve this is through joint quality assurance which includes standardized survey procedures, training, external quality assessment and collaboration in reporting. In addition to these, EHES has an important role in sharing experiences between countries, which is particularly important for countries with little earlier experience on national HESs and for countries adding new measurement to their HESs.

Kuulasmaa K, Tolonen H (Prepared). What is EHES and why is it needed? National Institute for Health and Welfare, 2013. Discussion_Paper 2013_007. URN:ISBN: 978-952-245-844-5, URL: for more information.

Current status of the EHES

At the moment, activities of the EHES Coordinating Centre are limited due to lack of sustainable funding.


National health examination surveys (HESs) have been funded nationally.

The activities of the EHES Coordination Centre have received funding through:

from the European Commission/DG Santé.


The views expressed here are those of the authors and they do not represent Commission's official position.