STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY RESEARCHER AND COLLEAGUES FIND INCOME AND EDUCATION ARE LIKELY TO AFFECT EVERYDAY HEALTH
Arthur Stone, PhD, Distinguished Professor and Vice Chairman of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University, and colleagues at Princeton University, University College-London, and the Gallup Organization have identified the link between socioeconomic status and common symptoms of disease, prompting new questions about the causal connections between them. Their findings were reported in the March 22, 2010 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine.
The article titled, “The Socioeconomic Gradient in Daily Colds and Influenza, Headaches, and Pain,” is based on a 2008 Gallup-Healthways telephone survey of more than 350,000 adults in the United States. Dr. Stone and colleagues report that people with lower education and income levels are more likely to experience symptoms of colds and flu, headaches, and pain than those with higher levels even when such factors as age, access to health care, and medical history are taken into consideration. The measurement of symptoms was based on whether or not they occurred “yesterday” in order to ensure accuracy.
Although the greatest differences in symptoms occur at the lower ends of the education and income spectrums, they are seen across almost all categories (see figure). The paper shows, for example, that people who did not finish high school are roughly twice as likely to catch colds, have headaches, or experience pain than those with a college degree. The survey also reveals that on any given day 23 percent of the adults in the United States report feeling physical pain, while the rate among people earning less than $12,000 is 46.6 percent.
The Archives of Internal Medicine is a publication of the American Medical Association.