Does IQ explain socioeconomic inequalities in health? Evidence from a population based cohort study in the west of Scotland

Batty, G.D., Der, G. , Macintyre, S. and Deary, I.J. (2006) Does IQ explain socioeconomic inequalities in health? Evidence from a population based cohort study in the west of Scotland. British Medical Journal, 332(7541), pp. 580-584. (doi:10.1136/bmj.38723.660637.ae)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.38723.660637.ae

Abstract

Objective: To test the hypothesis that IQ is a fundamental cause of socioeconomic inequalities in health. Design: Cross sectional and prospective cohort study, in which indicators of IQ were assessed by written test and socioeconomic position by self report. Setting: West of Scotland. Participants: 1347 people (739 women) aged 56 in 1987. Main outcome measures: Total mortality and coronary heart disease mortality (ascertained between 1987 and 2004); respiratory function, self reported minor psychiatric morbidity, long term illness, and self perceived health (all assessed in 1988). Results: In sex adjusted analyses, indices of socioeconomic position (childhood and current social class, education, income, and area deprivation) were significantly associated with each health outcome. Thus the greatest risk of ill health and mortality was evident in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, as expected. After adjustment for IQ, a marked attenuation in risk occurred for poor mental health (range of attenuation in risk ratio across the five socioeconomic indicators: 15-58%), long term illness (25-53%), poor self perceived health (41-56%), respiratory function (44-66%), coronary heart disease mortality (31-111%), and total mortality (45-131%). Despite the clear reduction in the magnitude of these effects after controlling for IQ, in half of the associations examined the risk of ill health in socioeconomically disadvantaged people was still at least twice that of advantaged people. Statistical significance was lost for only 5/25 separate socioeconomic health gradients that showed significant relations in sex adjusted analyses. Conclusions: Scores from the IQ test used here did not completely explain the socioeconomic gradients in health. However, controlling for IQ did lead to a marked reduction in the magnitude of these gradients. Further exploration of the currently scant information about IQ, socioeconomic position, and health is needed.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Der, Mr Geoffrey and Macintyre, Professor Sally and Batty, Dr G
Authors: Batty, G.D., Der, G., Macintyre, S., and Deary, I.J.
Subjects:R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing > Centre for Population and Health Sciences
Journal Name:British Medical Journal
Journal Abbr.:BMJ
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN:0959-535X
ISSN (Online):1756-1833
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2006 BMJ Publishing Group
First Published:First published in British Medical Journal 332(7541):580-584
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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