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Research overview

The National Institute for Health Development (TAI) researches the health of people in Estonia, their health behaviour and the factors that influence both of them. Our data and research findings form the basis for evidence-based policy development and evaluation in health and social policy in Estonia.

We are a positively evaluated research and development institution, whose activities have been judged to meet internationally recognised standards in the field of health.

In 2021, 71 research articles were published, of which 67 ( 94%) were in category 1.1, i.e. internationally recognised peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Web of Science, the world's most authoritative database of scientific output, publishes overviews of the number of publications, the impact factor of the journals in which they were published and their citations by other researchers around the world. We are ranked first among Estonian research institutions in terms of citations per article, or research impact.

We rank first among Estonian research institutions in terms of citations per article (73.7) or research impact (as of January 2022).

We collaborate with a wide range of Estonian and European research institutions and universities and carry out international research and development projects. Our researchers play an important role in supervising doctoral and master's theses, as well as teaching in universities and higher education institutions.

Between 2017 and 2021, 4 doctoral theses, 41 master's theses and 68 bachelor's or diploma theses were defended under the supervision of TAI staff.

Research directions

Our main research area is public health.

The National Institute of Health Development (TAI) is the leading research institution in Estonia in cancer epidemiology, socio-epidemiology and heritability, and in the assessment of health risks caused byhealth behaviour. TAI's research teams have established specific expertise in carrying out register-based studies, survey studies, cohort studies and life course studies. Many of these studies are based on data from medical registers managed by TAI, which we combine with other datasets as necessary to obtain additional information.

  • We carry out systematicpopulation-based surveillance and survey studies that allow to consistently monitor the health, health behaviour and determinants of health of different age groups . Time series for many health indicators for both adults and young people are available from the 1990s. The health behaviour in a number of areas is looked into in more detail through separate surveys, such as nutrition, drug and other addictive substance use and sexual behaviour. We also studynarrower target groups, such as people at higher risk of HIV infection. Find out more about population-based surveillance and survey studies.
  • To identify life course related health risks, we conduct repeated measures cohort studies such as the Estonian Children's Personality, Behaviour and Health Survey (ELIKTU) and the study investigating the determinants of food choice, lifestyle and health in European children, adolescents and their parents (IDEFICS/I.Family).
  • The results of research in the field of cancer (cancer epidemiology) allow to assess the effectiveness of cancer prevention, screening, early detection and treatment . We study cancer incidence, survival, mortality and prevalence. More about cancer research.
  • Research on health inequalities allows us to identify the characteristics of vulnerable target groups and to assess the life-course mechanisms of health inequalities in order to reduce them. We conduct long-term cohort studies to identify risks associated with occupational exposures, such as the Chernobyl Veterans Morbidity and Mortality Study. More on health inequalities studies.
  • Mental health studies help to assess the mental health status of the Estonian population, identify support and service needs in this area, and develop evidence-based prevention methods and psychological interventions.
  • Women's health surveys provide evidence-based information to improve women's health throughout their life course. Research addresses the prevention and treatment of malignancies, screening, reproductive health, pregnancy and childbirth, miscarriage and abortion, and the health of post-menopausal women. Find out more about women's health research.
  • Investigating the surveillance and prevalence of communicable diseases, including diseases linked to risk behaviour and tick-borne diseases. Examples include hepatitis, HIV, tuberculosis and Lyme disease.
  • Using survey and other research data, we design and implement evidence-based public health interventions and conduct surveys to evaluate their uptake and impact.