How much of health inequality in the UK is explained by physical environment?

Richard Mitchell (University of Glasgow)

Friday 18th March, 2011 13:00-14:00 326


Health inequalities persist and continue to widen in the UK, despite considerable policy attention. There are several competing explanations for how socio-economic inequalities in health occur; one theory is that populations living in deprived areas may also experience greater exposure to harmful physical environments, or less exposure to health promoting physical environments. Socio-economic deprivation has been successfully measured using area-level multivariate indices to identify small area populations with relatively higher or lower socio-economic "burdens". These measures combine information on residents'c haracteristics such as employment status, housing status, material possessions or access to services. However, similar summary measures for multiple attributes of physical environment were not available, until the recent completion of a project to create one. This seminar will introduce and explain the new summary measure of physical environment, and then show how it has been used to investigate how much of the UK's socio-economic health inequality can be explained by exposure to differing physical environmental circumstances.

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