Education differentials by race and ethnicity in the diagnosis and management of hypercholesterolemia: a national sample of U.S. adults (NHANES 1999–2002)
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- Merkin, S.S., Karlamangla, A., Crimmins, E. et al. Int J Public Health (2009) 54: 166. doi:10.1007/s00038-008-7030-4
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To examine education differentials in screening, awareness, treatment and control of hypercholesterolemia overall and in 3 race/ethnic groups.
We analyzed data for a nationally representative sample of 8,429 men and women ages 20 to 85 years, self-reported as white, black, Mexican American, or other race/ethnicity, who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999–2002.
Participants with < high school education were 2.5 times less likely than participants with ≥ high school education to have been screened for hypercholesterolemia, after adjusting for age and gender (odds ratio: 0.4, 95 % confidence interval: 0.3–0.5, and similar across race/ethnic group). Multivariable models for awareness, treatment and control showed no significant trends associated with education after adjusting for age, gender, race and comorbidities.
Higher education significantly increased the odds of being screened for hypercholesterolemia overall and within each race/ethnic group. Education differentials were strongest for hypercholesterolemia screening, and weak or no longer apparent for subsequent steps of awareness, treatment and control. Focusing public health policy on increasing screening for individuals with low education might greatly improve their chances of preventing or mitigating morbidity related to hypercholesterolemia and subsequent cardiovascular disease.