, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 29-38
Date: 17 Dec 2011

Racial Differences in Mortality in Older Adults: Factors Beyond Socioeconomic Status

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Abstract

Background

Little is known about the simultaneous effect of socioeconomic status (SES), psychosocial, and health-related factors on race differences in mortality in older adults.

Purpose

This study examined the association between race and mortality and the role of SES, health insurance, psychosocial factors, behavioral factors, and health-related factors in explaining these differences.

Methods

Data consisted of 2,938 adults participating in the Health, Aging and Body Composition study. Mortality was assessed over 8 years.

Results

SES differences accounted for 60% of the racial differences in all-cause mortality; behavioral factors and self-rated health further reduced the disparity. The racial differences in coronary heart disease mortality were completely explained by SES. Health insurance and behavioral factors accounted for some, but not all, of the race differences in cancer mortality.

Conclusions

Race-related risk factors for mortality may differ by the underlying cause of mortality.