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Socioeconomic factors contribute to growing health disparities


Morgan Liotta


1/02/2019 9:45:04 AM

A report from the AIHW highlights that social and environmental factors significantly contribute to morbidity and mortality rates.

Diabetes contributed to the greatest gap in death rates between socioeconomic groups in 2016, the AIHW report reveals.
Diabetes contributed to the greatest gap in death rates between socioeconomic groups in 2016, the AIHW report reveals.

The health gap between Australia’s highest and lowest socioeconomic groups is growing, according to new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
 
The report, Indicators of socioeconomic inequalities in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease, shows that people who are socioeconomically disadvantaged have higher rates of three chronic diseases: cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD).
 
The report also examines the connections between socioeconomic factors – income, housing and education – and the likelihood of developing and dying from common chronic diseases such as CVD, diabetes and CKD.
 
‘We found that people in the lowest of the five socioeconomic groups had, on average, higher rates of these diseases than those in the highest socioeconomic groups,’ AIHW spokesperson Dr Lynelle Moon said.
 
‘Unfortunately, we also found higher death rates from these diseases among people in the lowest socioeconomic groups.’ 
 
The greatest gap in death rates between socioeconomic groups was among people with diabetes.
 
Key findings of the report include that in 2016:

  • males aged 25 and over living in the lowest socioeconomic areas of Australia had a heart attack rate 1.55 times as high as males in the highest socioeconomic areas, and females in the same demographic had a rate of 1.76 times as high
  • type 2 diabetes prevalence for males in lower socioeconomic areas was 1.7 times as high as for males in the highest socioeconomic areas, and prevalence for females was 2.07 times as high
  • rates of treated end-stage kidney disease for males in the lowest socioeconomic areas was 1.52 times as high as for males in the highest socioeconomic areas, and rates for females was 1.75 times as high
  • the CVD death rate for males in the lowest socioeconomic areas was 1.52 times as high as for males in the highest socioeconomic areas, and rates for females was 1.33 times as high.  

According to the AIHW data, if all Australians had the same death rates from chronic disease as people in the highest socioeconomic areas in 2016, there would have been 8600 fewer deaths from CVD, 6900 fewer deaths from diabetes, and 4800 fewer deaths from CKD.
 
The AIHW uses the latest available data to measure socioeconomic inequalities, prevalence and mortality from these three diseases, and assess whether these inequalities are growing with a target to reduce the health gap.
 
‘By better understanding the role social inequality plays in chronic disease, governments at all levels can develop stronger, evidence-based policies and programs aimed at preventing and managing these diseases, leading to better health outcomes across our community,’ Dr Moon said.



AIHW Chronic disease Health inequalities socioeconomic


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