The causal effects of health conditions and risk factors on social and socioeconomic outcomes: Mendelian randomization in UK Biobank

Harrison, S. et al. (2020) The causal effects of health conditions and risk factors on social and socioeconomic outcomes: Mendelian randomization in UK Biobank. International Journal of Epidemiology, 49(5), pp. 1661-1681. (doi: 10.1093/ije/dyaa114) (PMID:32808034) (PMCID:PMC7746412)

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Background: We aimed to estimate the causal effect of health conditions and risk factors on social and socioeconomic outcomes in UK Biobank. Evidence on socioeconomic impacts is important to understand because it can help governments, policy makers and decision makers allocate resources efficiently and effectively. Methods: We used Mendelian randomization to estimate the causal effects of eight health conditions (asthma, breast cancer, coronary heart disease, depression, eczema, migraine, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes) and five health risk factors [alcohol intake, body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, smoking] on 19 social and socioeconomic outcomes in 336 997 men and women of White British ancestry in UK Biobank, aged between 39 and 72 years. Outcomes included annual household income, employment, deprivation [measured by the Townsend deprivation index (TDI)], degree-level education, happiness, loneliness and 13 other social and socioeconomic outcomes. Results: Results suggested that BMI, smoking and alcohol intake affect many socioeconomic outcomes. For example, smoking was estimated to reduce household income [mean difference = -£22 838, 95% confidence interval (CI): -£31 354 to -£14 321] and the chance of owning accommodation [absolute percentage change (APC) = -20.8%, 95% CI: -28.2% to -13.4%], of being satisfied with health (APC = -35.4%, 95% CI: -51.2% to -19.5%) and of obtaining a university degree (APC = -65.9%, 95% CI: -81.4% to -50.4%), while also increasing deprivation (mean difference in TDI = 1.73, 95% CI: 1.02 to 2.44, approximately 216% of a decile of TDI). There was evidence that asthma decreased household income, the chance of obtaining a university degree and the chance of cohabiting, and migraine reduced the chance of having a weekly leisure or social activity, especially in men. For other associations, estimates were null. Conclusions: Higher BMI, alcohol intake and smoking were all estimated to adversely affect multiple social and socioeconomic outcomes. Effects were not detected between health conditions and socioeconomic outcomes using Mendelian randomization, with the exceptions of depression, asthma and migraines. This may reflect true null associations, selection bias given the relative health and age of participants in UK Biobank, and/or lack of power to detect effects.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Katikireddi, Professor Vittal and Campbell, Dr Desmond and Green, Dr Michael
Authors: Harrison, S., Davies, A. R., Dickson, M., Tyrrell, J., Green, M., Katikireddi, V., Campbell, D., Munafó, M., Dixon, P., Jones, H. E., Rice, F., Davies, N. M., and Howe, L. D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:International Journal of Epidemiology
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1464-3685
Published Online:18 August 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in International Journal of Epidemiology 49(5):1661–1681
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
172690Understanding the impacts of welfare policy on health: A novel data linkage studySrinivasa KatikireddiChief Scientist Office (CSO)SCAF/15/02HW - Public Health
727651SPHSU Core Renewal: Measuring and Analysing Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health Research ProgrammeAlastair LeylandMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/13IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
Chief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU13
727671SPHSU Core Renewal: Informing Healthy Public Policy Research ProgrammePeter CraigMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/15IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
Chief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU15