New review shows socio-economic position over the life course affects quality of life

A new systematic review looking at the relationship between socio-economic position over the life course and quality of life has just been published in BMC Public Health by CRESH PhD student Claire Niedzwiedz, Rich Mitchell and colleagues at the University of Glasgow and MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit.

The review’s aim was to gather and examine evidence about how people’s quality of life as adults depends on the social and economic circumstances they have experienced throughout their life, from childhood onwards. Do childhood circumstances matter? Does it help if people move ‘up’ the socio-economic ladder? Does it harm if people move ‘down’?

In chronic disease epidemiology, several conceptual models have been developed to help explore these ideas and they provide a foundation for investigating life course effects. The accumulation model hypothesises that adverse socio-economic experiences have a cumulative, dose–response effect on health. The latent model (or critical period) suggests that circumstances during childhood have an effect on health, over and above adult circumstances. Pathway models emphasise the importance of trajectories across the life course. Social mobility models are usually divided into intra-generational and inter- generational where inter-generational mobility refers to a change in social class between generations and intra-generational mobility is the movement between different social classes in adulthood. The mobility models suggest that change in your socio-economic position will affect health, and in general lead us to expect that movement ‘up’ the social ladder is good for health, but movement down may be bad.

The review identified 12 relevant articles which used data from different five countries.

The evidence supported an overall relationship between socio-economic position over the life course and quality of life but results for each life course model were mixed.  There was some evidence to suggest a latent effect of childhood socio-economic position on later quality of life for women, but the effect was not found for men. Overall, results for social mobility models suggested little effect. We found very few studies that actually assessed inter-generational mobility or accumulation and pathway effects.

There was a very wide range socio-economic position measures, outcomes, analytic techniques, reference populations and quality across all the studies we looked at. This led to a key message from the review; the need to increase study comparability. A second key message was the need for comparable data and studies from different countries. This may help to uncover aspects of different societies that influence the relationship between socio-economic position over the life course and quality of life.

You can access the article here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-12-628.

 

 

2 thoughts on “New review shows socio-economic position over the life course affects quality of life”

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