Social inequalities regarding health and health behaviour in Austrian adults

Institute of Social Medicine and Epidemiology, Medical University Graz, Universitaetsplatz 6/I, 8010, Graz, Austria.
Wiener klinische Wochenschrift (Impact Factor: 0.84). 04/2012; 124(7-8):256-61. DOI: 10.1007/s00508-012-0164-7
Source: PubMed


Studies have shown that people of a low socioeconomic status (SES) show worse health and health behaviour as well as a higher mortality rate than subjects with a high SES. Studies concerning the association between mortality and SES in Austrian adults have been conducted before, but not regarding specific variables which have an influence on mortality. Therefore the aim of our study was to investigate whether Austrian adults with a high versus low SES differ concerning ill health, health-related behaviour, quality of life as well as use of medical care. Data of 12,892 subjects from the Austrian Health Interview Survey (ATHIS) 2006/2007 were analysed concerning these outcomes. Subjects with low SES differ significantly from those with high SES in terms of health behaviour (e.g. eating behaviour, physical activity) and quality of life. They report significantly more diseases (e.g. cardiac infarction) and use health services more often. Low SES has a strong negative impact on health in Austrian adults. Therefore, in Austria a continued strong public health programme is required with absolute priority on low-SES groups.

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    • "Results indicate that individuals with lower SES are more often smokers and they report less physical activity. Furthermore, they more often show problematic drinking patterns (for an overview see Burkert et al. 2012: 256). Thus, it seems that due to their social disadvantage, young mothers engage more frequently in health risk behaviour such as smoking (Holm/Olausson in Olausson et al. 2001: 73; for an overview see Hugg et al. 2007: 60). "
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    ABSTRACT: Employing the data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) for 13 European countries, we analyse the relationship between mother’s age at first birth and her health at age 45 to 56. Compared to mothers who gave birth at middle age, we found a significantly higher risk of illness among young first-time mothers. In a first step, we show that this effect largely remains after controlling for selection effects which determine age at first birth. Next, we examine whether the biosocial view could be confirmed. This approach explains the negative effect of early births on later health through a lack of social and economic resources during young mothers’ life course. Thus, fewer resources are expected to affect health outcomes. However, the results indicate that the negative effect of young age at first birth remains even after controlling for health-related resources throughout the life course. The operationalisation of health-related resources as well as unobserved effects might be regarded as possible explanations for this. Due to data restrictions, indicators for educational history, job history and social support, that are all likely to depend on age at first birth and also affect later health, could not be taken into account. The results identify mechanisms of cumulative social inequality when disadvantaged women become mothers at younger age and thereby further increase their risk of disease.
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: Obesity prevalence is increasing worldwide and associated with a high health risk. Unfavourable psychological factors, lower self-ratings of health and worse health-related behaviour can be found in individuals with a low socioeconomic status (SES). Therefore, the aim of our study was to investigate whether normal weight vs. obese subjects with a high vs. low socioeconomic status (SES) differ with regard to self-perceived health, quality of life and health-related behaviour. Methods: Data of the Austrian Health Interview Survey (ATHIS) 2006/07, precisely of 8015 subjects were analysed stratified by sex and adjusted by age concerning these outcomes. Results: The results have shown that men and women with a low SES differ significantly from those with a high SES in terms of self-perceived health, quality of life, intensity of physical activities, alcohol consumption, and eating behaviour (men: p <0.001; women: p<0.001). A significant interaction between the body mass index (BMI) and SES occurred in men concerning quality of life in the domains physical (p<0.05) and psychological health (p<0.01), in women as to self-perceived health (p<0.01), quality of life in the domains physical health (p<0.01) and environment (p<0.05), as well as physical activities (p<0.01). Conclusion: The SES has a strong negative impact on health-related variables, especially in obese subjects, and therefore risk assessment in the primary health-care setting should include socioeconomic factors. Furthermore, a continued strong public health programme is required with an absolute priority placed on obese subjects of low SES.
    Das Gesundheitswesen 11/2012; 75(7). DOI:10.1055/s-0032-1327748 · 0.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Regular physical activity leads to a number of physiological benefits, such as reduced risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus and obesity. In Austria, there is little information about the prevalence of physically inactive people, as well as about who is more likely to belong to the inactive or irregularly active groups. The aim of this study is to describe the socio-demographic distributions across the stages of behavioural change for moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity, according to the Transtheoretical Model, and to identify associations with smoking and body mass index (BMI). Method: Data were collected in a standardised procedure using a self-report questionnaire from 489 adults who attended a health check in an outpatient clinic in southern Austria. Height and weight were measured by physicians. The subjects were categorised into the five stages of change (pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance), separately assessed for moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity. Results: The likelihood of being in the stage of maintenance of moderate-intensity physical activity was highest in older subjects (p < 0.05). Participants of a high educational level showed the highest likelihood of being physically active in vigorous-intensity physical activity (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the lowest stages of change behaviour were associated with higher BMI levels for vigorous-intensity physical activity (p < 0.05). Smokers were significantly (p < 0.05) more likely not to perform vigorous-intensity physical activity than non-smokers. Conclusion: Our findings contribute to a better understanding of behavioural correlates of regular physical activity. The results may prove useful for developing promotion programmes for physical activity, allowing targeting of the identified risk groups.
    Wiener klinische Wochenschrift 04/2013; 125(9-10). DOI:10.1007/s00508-013-0361-z · 0.84 Impact Factor
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