Study reveals serious north-south health gap in modern Britain

04/29/04

Is there a north-south divide in social class inequalities in health in Great Britain? Cross sectional study using data from the 2001 census BMJ Volume 328, pp 1043-5

21st century Britain is experiencing a serious north-south health divide between social classes, warn researchers in this week's BMJ.

Using data from the 2001 UK census, a team at the University of Liverpool explored social class inequalities in health among adults aged between 25 and 64.

Census respondents were asked to rate their general health in the previous 12 months. Rates of poor heath were calculated according to sex, social class, and region.

Large geographic inequalities in health existed across the country, with rates of poor health generally increasing from class 1 (higher managerial and professional occupations) to class 7 (routine occupations). Women generally had poorer self rated health than men in the same social class.

Wales and the North East and North West regions of England fared particularly badly, with high rates of poor health for all seven social classes.

In contrast, people in all social classes in the South East and the East, and most classes in the South West, had lower rates of poor health than the Great Britain average for their class.

The widest health gaps between social classes, however, were in Scotland and London. This adds another dimension to the policy debate on resource allocation and targets to tackle the health divide, say the authors.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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