Inequality in morbidity and consulting behaviour for socially vulnerable groups

Baker, DJ, Cambell, S and Mead, N 2002, 'Inequality in morbidity and consulting behaviour for socially vulnerable groups' , British Journal of General Practice, 52 (475) , pp. 124-130.

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BACKGROUND: The focus of health policy on improving health and reducing inequality for socially vulnerable groups. AIM: To examine self-report of condition-specific morbidity and consultation with the general practitioner (GP) for socially vulnerable groups. DESIGN OF STUDY: Cross-sectional survey using a modified version of the General Practitioner Assessment Survey (GPAS). SETTING: Ten general practices in each of six health authorities. METHOD: A random sample of 200 patients was selected from each practice. The questionnaire elicited information about experience of specific acute and chronic conditions and whether the GP had been consulted. Four sub-samples were selected from the 4493 registered patients who responded to the self-completion questionnaire. They were lone mothers (n = 160), elderly living alone (n = 417), the unemployed (n = 100), and members of ethnic minority groups (n = 316). RESULTS: Logistic regression analyses showed that, after adjustment for age, sex, smoking, and housing tenure, only lone motherhood and ethnic minority group status were consistently and independently associated with poorer health outcomes. Lone motherhood was associated with a higher likelihood of anxiety (odds ratio [OR] = 2.03, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.34 to 3.08) and sleep problems (OR = 1.83, 95% CI = 1.18 to 2.83) and ethnic minority group status with a higher likelihood of depression (OR = 2.02, 95% CI = 1.34 to 3.04), diabetes (OR = 4.03, 95% CI = 2.54 to 6.39, migraine (OR = 1.72, 95% CI = 1.26 to 2.35), and minor respiratory symptoms (OR = 1.75, 95% CI = 1.33 to 2.29). Ethnic minority group status was the only source of social vulnerability that was independently associated with a higher likelihood of GP consultation, particularly for episodes of illness such as backache (OR = 3.28, 95% CI = 2.06 to 5.21), indigestion (OR = 2.94, 95% CI = 1.53 to 5.65), migraine (OR = 3.22, 95% CI = 1.75 to 5.93), minor respiratory symptoms (OR = 3.53, 95% CI = 2.26 to 5.50) and sleep problems (OR = 4.72, 95% CI = 2.56 to 8.71). CONCLUSIONS: Social vulnerability can be a risk factor for poorer health, but this is dependent on the source of vulnerability and is condition-specific. No association was found between inequity in the utilisation of primary care and social vulnerability. The propensity for members of ethnic minority groups to consult more than white people, particularly for acute conditions, requires further exploration.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Subjects / Themes > R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Health and Wellbeing
Subjects outside of the University Themes
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society > Centre for Applied Research in Health, Welfare and Policy
Journal or Publication Title: British Journal of General Practice
Publisher: Royal College of General Practitioners
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 09601643
Depositing User: H Kenna
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2008 14:22
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 21:57

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