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J Public Health Med. 2003 Dec;25(4):288-94.

Socio-economic position and health: what you observe depends on how you measure it.

Author information

  • 1MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, 4 Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow G12 8RZ, UK. S.Macintyre@msoc.mrc.gla.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

A number of different socio-economic classifications have been used in relation to health in the United Kingdom. The aim of this study was to compare the predictive power of different socio-economic classifications in relation to a range of health measures.

METHODS:

A postal questionnaire was sent to a random sample of adults in the West of Scotland (sampling from 1997 electoral roll, response rate 50 percent achieved sample 2,867).

RESULTS:

Associations between social position and health vary by socio-economic classification, health measure and gender. Limiting long-standing illness is more socially patterned than recent illness; income, Registrar General Social Class, housing tenure and car access are more predictive of health than the new National Statistics Socio Economic Classification; and men show steeper socio-economic gradients than women.

CONCLUSION:

Although there is a consistent picture of poorer health among more disadvantaged groups, however measured, in seeking to explain and reduce social inequalities in health we need to take a more differentiated approach that does not assume equivalence among social classifications and health measures.

PMID:
14747587
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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