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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 25;8(7):e70082. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070082. Print 2013.

Effect of socioeconomic status on mortality after bacteremia in working-age patients. A Danish population-based cohort study.

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Department of Clinical Microbiology, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark.



To examine the effect of socioeconomic status (SES) on mortality in patients with bacteremia and the underlying factors that may mediate differences in mortality.


We conducted a population-based cohort study in two Danish regions. All patients 30 to 65 years of age with first time bacteremia from 2000 through 2008 were identified in a population-based microbiological bacteremia database (n = 8,653). Individual-level data on patients' SES (educational level and personal income) and comorbid conditions were obtained from public and medical registries. We used Cox regression to examine mortality within 30 days after bacteremia with and without cumulative adjustment for potential mediators.


Bacteremia patients of low SES were more likely to live alone and be unmarried than patients of high SES. They also had more pre-existing comorbidity, more substance abuse, more Staphylococcus aureus and nosocomial infections, and more admissions to small nonteaching hospitals. Overall, 1,374 patients (15.9%) died within 30 days of follow-up. Patients of low SES had consistently higher mortality after bacteremia than those of high SES crude hazard ratio for low vs. high education, 1.38 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.18-1.61]; crude hazard ratio for low-income vs. high-income tertile, 1.58 [CI, 1.39-1.80]. Adjustment for differences in social support, pre-existing comorbidity, substance abuse, place of acquisition of the infection, and microbial agent substantially attenuated the effect of SES on mortality (adjusted hazard ratio for low vs. high education, 1.15 [95% CI, 0.98-1.36]; adjusted hazard ratio for low-income vs. high-income tertile, 1.29 [CI, 1.12-1.49]). Further adjustment for characteristics of the admitting hospital had minimal effect on observed mortality differences.


Low SES was strongly associated with increased 30-day mortality after bacteremia. Less social support, more pre-existing comorbidity, more substance abuse, and differences in place of acquisition and agent of infection appeared to mediate much of the observed disparities in mortality.

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