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Int J Epidemiol. 1996 Jun;25(3):560-7.

Socioeconomic differences in 'avoidable' mortality in Sweden 1986-1990.

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Department of Social Medicine, Uppsala University, Akademiska Sjukhuset, S-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden.



'Avoidable' mortality is commonly studied as an indicator of the outcome of health care. In this study socioeconomic differences in avoidable mortality in Sweden from 1986 to 1990 are analysed and related methodological issues discussed.


The 1985 Swedish Population and Housing Census was linked to the National Cause of Death Register 1986-1990. Mortality from potentially 'avoidable' causes of death was analysed for the age group 21-64 years. Analyses were performed for different socioeconomic groups, blue-collar workers, white-collar workers and the self-employed as well as for individuals outside the labour market. Standardized Mortality Ratios were calculated using standardization by age and sex.


For all indicators studied, the death rates for those not in work were higher than for people at work. The largest differences were found for chronic bronchitis, diabetes, bacterial meningitis, ulcer of the stomach and duodenum, chronic rheumatic heart disease, asthma and hypertensive and cerebrovascular disease. For these causes of death the risk of dying was between 3.1 and 7.5 times greater in the non-working population than in the work-force. The differences in avoidable mortality between blue-collar workers and white-collar workers and the self-employed were, however, much smaller. For most of the indicators no significant differences were found. For ulcers of the stomach and duodenum, however the death rate for blue-collar workers was 2.8 times higher than those for other categories in work.


The small difference in mortality outcome for different socioeconomic groups within the work-force indicates an equal quality of care for these groups. The greatly increased risk among the non-working population, however, is a warning sign. These results may be due to a 'healthy worker' effect. The measurement of socioeconomic differences in mortality may be dependent on the time-period chosen between occupational exposure and mortality outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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