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Socioeconomic gradients and mental health: implications for public health

  • Sarah Stewart-Brown (a1), Preshila Chandimali Samaraweera (a2), Frances Taggart (a3), Ngianga-Bakwin Kandala (a3) and Saverio Stranges (a3)...

Abstract

Background

Research on mental well-being is relatively new and studies of its determinants are rare.

Aims

To investigate whether the socioeconomic correlates of mental well-being mirror those for mental illness.

Method

Using logistic regression analyses, the independent odds ratios of high and low mental well-being, compared with middle-range mental well-being, were estimated for a number of sociodemographic variables known to be associated with mental illness from 13 983 participants in the 2010 and 2011 Health Surveys for England.

Results

Independent odds ratios for low mental well-being were as expected from studies of mental illness with increased odds for the unemployed (OR = 1.46, 95% CI 1.01–2.10) and those aged 35–54 years (OR = 1.58, 95% CI 1.35–1.84) and reduced odds for the married (OR = 0.78, 95% CI 0.62–0.97). A linear trend was observed with education and equivalised income. Odds ratios for high mental well-being differed from those for low mental well-being with regard to age (55+ years: OR = 1.48, 95% CI 1.23–1.79); employment status where there was an association only with retirement (OR = 1.35, 95% CI 1.09–1.69); education where there was no association; and equivalised income for which the association was non-linear.

Conclusions

Odds ratios for low mental well-being mirrored those for mental illness, but not those for high mental well-being, suggesting that the socioeconomic factors associated with positive mental health are different from those associated with mental illness.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Sarah Stewart-Brown, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Gibbet Hill Campus Coventry CV4 7AL, UK. Email: sarah.stewart-brown@warwick.ac.uk

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

S.S.-B. developed the Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale, but has no financial interests in the scale.

Footnotes

References

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Stewart-Brown et al. supplementary material
Supplementary Table S1-S6

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Socioeconomic gradients and mental health: implications for public health

  • Sarah Stewart-Brown (a1), Preshila Chandimali Samaraweera (a2), Frances Taggart (a3), Ngianga-Bakwin Kandala (a3) and Saverio Stranges (a3)...
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