Editorials

Socioeconomic inequalities in health

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39203.661829.BE (Published 10 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:963
  1. Debbie A Lawlor, professor of epidemiology,
  2. Jonathan A C Sterne, professor of medical statistics and epidemiology
  1. Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 2PR
  1. d.a.lawlor{at}bristol.ac.uk

    Are important but the effects of age and sex may be overlooked

    Socioeconomic differences in health have been described since the 16th and 17th centuries,1 2 but only recently has reducing them been central to public health policy in many Western countries.3 Over the past three decades, epidemiological studies have confirmed the existence of socioeconomic inequalities in a range of health outcomes, including premature mortality, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, self reported ill health, and smoking related cancers, and have explored potential mechanisms linking lower socioeconomic position to poorer health.4 The Whitehall cohort studies have made important contributions to this literature.5

    Several studies,6 7 8 9 including a publication from Whitehall II,10 have found that poorer socioeconomic position is associated with worse morbidity, mortality, and self reported health in older people. In this week's BMJ, a new analysis of data from Whitehall II by Chandola and colleagues examines the extent to which socioeconomic inequalities in self reported physical and mental health continue into older age.11 The paper adds to the literature by using repeated measures of socioeconomic position and self reported health, both …

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