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Stony Brook University Researcher and Colleagues Find Income and Education are Likely to Affect Everyday Health

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Stony Brook University Researcher and Colleagues Find Income and Education are Likely to Affect Everyday Health

People with lower education and income levels are more likely to experience symptoms of colds and flu, headaches, and pain

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Arthur A. Stone, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and Vice Chairman of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University

STONY BROOK, NY, March 25, 2010 – Researchers have identified the link between socioeconomic status and common symptoms of disease, prompting new questions about the causal connections between them, the findings for which are reported in “Research Letters” section of the March 22, 2010 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine by Arthur A. Stone, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and Vice Chairman of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University and colleagues at Princeton University, University College – London, and the Gallup Organization.

The article entitled, “The Socioeconomic Gradient in Daily Colds and Influenza, Headaches and Pain,” is based on a 2008 Gallup-Healthways telephone survey of more than 350,000 adults in the United States. Dr. Stone and colleagues report that people with lower education and income levels are more likely to experience symptoms of colds and flu, headaches, and pain than those with higher levels even when such factors as age, access to health care, and medical history are taken into consideration. The measurement of symptoms was based on whether or not they occurred “yesterday” in order to ensure accuracy.

The greatest differences in symptoms occur at the lower ends of the education and income spectrums, but they are seen across almost all categories (see figure).  The paper shows, for example, that people who did not finish high school are roughly twice as likely to catch a cold, have a headache or experience pain than those with a college degree.  The survey also reveals that on any given day 23% of the adults in the United States report feeling physical pain while the rate among people earning less than $12,000 is 46.6%.  

 

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Graph relating socioeconomic status to common ailments.

 

The Archives of Internal Medicine is a publication of the American Medical Association.

 

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