Socioeconomic status, health inequalities and non-communicable diseases: a systematic review
UNIVERSAL IDENTIFIER: http://hdl.handle.net/11093/3226
EDITED VERSION: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s10389-017-0850-z
DOCUMENT TYPE: article
Aim A comprehensive approach to health highlights its close relationship with the social and economic conditions, physical environment and individual lifestyles. However, this relationship is not exempt from methodological problems that may bias the establishment of direct effects between the variables studied. Thus, further research is necessary to investigate the role of socioeconomic variables, their composition and distribution according to health status, particularly on non-communicable diseases. Subjects and methods To shed light on this field, here a systematic review is performed using PubMed, the Cochrane Library and Web of Science. A 7-year retrospective horizon was considered until 21 July 2017. Results Twenty-six papers were obtained from the database search. Additionally, results from “hand searching” were also included, where a wider horizon was considered. Five of the 26 studies analyzed used aggregated data compared to 21 using individual data. Eleven considered income as a study variable, while 17 analyzed the effect of income inequality on health status (2 of the studies considered both the absolute level and distribution of income). The most used indicator of inequality in the literature was the Gini index. Conclusion Although different types of analysis produce very different results concerning the role of health determinants, the general conclusion is that income distribution is related to health where it represents a measure of the differences in social class in the society. The effect of income inequality is to increase the gap between social classes or to widen differences in status.
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