36-year trends in educational inequalities in self-rated health among Finnish adults

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Lahelma , E , Pietilainen , O , Pentala-Nikulainen , O , Helakorpi , S & Rahkonen , O 2019 , ' 36-year trends in educational inequalities in self-rated health among Finnish adults ' , SSM - Population Health , vol. 9 , 100504 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2019.100504

Title: 36-year trends in educational inequalities in self-rated health among Finnish adults
Author: Lahelma, Eero; Pietilainen, Olli; Pentala-Nikulainen, Oona; Helakorpi, Satu; Rahkonen, Ossi
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences
University of Helsinki, Center for Population, Health and Society
University of Helsinki, Department of Public Health
Date: 2019-12
Language: eng
Number of pages: 14
Belongs to series: SSM - Population Health
ISSN: 2352-8273
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/309017
Abstract: Health inequalities exist across countries and populations, but little is known about their long-term trends and even less about factors shaping the trends. We examined the magnitude of absolute and relative educational inequalities in self-rated health over 36 years among Finnish adults, considering individual covariates and macro-economic fluctuations. Our data were derived from representative annual cross-sectional surveys in 1979-2014 conducted among adult men and women. Participants aged 25-64 were included and nine periods used (n = 8870-14235). Our health outcome was less-than-good self-rated health (SRH) and our socioeconomic indicator was completed years of education as a continuous variable. Educational inequalities in self-rated health were analysed using the relative index of inequality (RII) and the slope index of inequality (SII). Nine time-variant sociodemographic and health-related covariates were included in the analyses. Linear trends suggested stable or slightly curvilinear overall trends in both absolute and relative health equalities over 36 years. Among men, absolute and relative inequalities narrowed immediately after economic recession in Finland in 1993-1994. Among women, inequalities narrowed during financial crisis in 2008-2009. Adjusting for most covariates reduced the magnitude of inequalities throughout the nine periods, but affected little the temporal patterning of health inequalities. Educational inequalities in self-rated health remained during 36 years in Finland. While among men and women health inequalities narrowed during and after recessions, they widened soon back to the pre-recession level. The perseverance of the trends calls for novel and powerful measures to tackle health inequalities.
Subject: Self-rated health
3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health

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