International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 143–151

Explaining the social gradient in health in canada: Using the national population health survey to examine the role of stressors


DOI: 10.1207/s15327558ijbm1103_3

Cite this article as:
Orpana, H.M. & Lemyre, L. Int. J. Behav. Med. (2004) 11: 143. doi:10.1207/s15327558ijbm1103_3


Understanding the mechanisms that explain the pervasive association between socioeconomic status and health has been identified as an important area of research. Using the 1994-1995 National Population Health Survey, this study examines whether exposure to psychosocial stressors may be one mediating mechanism of the social gradient in health. Data were obtained including indicators of socioeconomic status (SES); exposure to recent life events and chronic stressors; and self-rated health status. Results showed a clear gradient in poor self-rated health with decreasing SES. Higher exposure to stressors across several domains was also observed with decreasing SES. Exposure to stressors was further associated with poor self-rated health, above and beyond adjusting for SES. Across income adequacy groups, exposure to stressors accounted for 16% to 26% of the relationship between income group and poor self-rated health among men and for 6% to 15% among women, suggesting that exposure to psychosocial stressors may be one of the mediators underlying the higher prevalence of poor self-rated health within lower socioeconomic groups.

Key words

socioeconomic statussocial gradientstressorsstressself-rated health

Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Population HealthUniversity of OttawaOttawa, OntarioCanada