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Mortality risks from psychological distress are greater for people of lower socioeconomic status

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Question: What is the combined effect of socioeconomic status and psychological distress on all-cause mortality?

People: A total of 66 518 people aged 35 years or over participated in the Health Survey for England. These people were representative of 69% of the total eligible sample, who had questionnaire data available, were without cancer or cardiovascular disease at baseline, and who consented to follow-up of mortality data. Participants were surveyed annually on general health, lifestyle behaviours, height, weight, socioeconomic status (SES), psychological factors, and physician-diagnosed diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Assessments were made at home visits using a combination of Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing techniques and measurements taken by trained interviewers and nurses.

Setting: Population study, England; recruitment 1994–2004.

Risk factors: Psychological distress and SES status. Psychological distress was measured on the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) with score 0 indicating …

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  • Sources of funding: British Heart Foundation.


  • Competing interests None.