, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 22-34
Date: 04 Dec 2010

Gender Patterns of Socioeconomic Differences in Premature Mortality: Follow-up of the Hungarian Epidemiological Panel

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Abstract

Background

Gender differences in premature mortality rates and in the size of socioeconomic inequalities in mortality vary across countries.

Purpose

We aimed to quantify the gender differences in the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and premature all-cause mortality and to analyse whether psychosocial factors might associate between SES and mortality among men and women separately in the middle-aged Hungarian population.

Method

Men (n = 1130) and women (n = 1529), aged 40–69 years, participants in the Hungarian Epidemiological Panel (2002) were followed up for 3.5 years for total mortality. Cox proportional hazard models were used to evaluate the association between several socioeconomic measures and total death.

Results

During the follow-up, 99 men (8.8%) and 53 women (3.5%) died. The age-adjusted hazard ratios and the Rothman’s synergy indexes showed that each measure of socioeconomic position was more deleterious in men compared with women. When investigating potential explanatory factors for the SES–mortality association, we found that adjustment for severe depression resulted in the most pronounced reduction in the regression coefficients for the association between most socioeconomic factors and male premature death. There was no indication that depression would mediate between SES and mortality in women. Work stress factors, poor lifestyle and low social support also contributed to the explanation of the link between socioeconomic disadvantage and premature death in men.

Conclusion

Middle-aged Hungarian men seem to be considerably more vulnerable to the chronic stress of material disadvantage than women. This effect modification by gender might partly be explained by a stronger connection between low SES and depressive symptoms in men.