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clinmed/1999120021v1 (December 29, 1999)
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The widening social class gap of preventive health behaviours in Spain

Carlos Alvarez-Dardet, Cristina Montahud, and Maria Teresa Ruiz

Objective:To analyse the trends of preventive health behaviours by social class as a way to forecast future evolutions of disease burden and mortality gaps by socioeconomic groups. Design: Descriptive study of the evolution by social class of the Health Practices Index (smoking, alcohol consumption, physical exercise, sleep hours and Quetelet index) using the Spanish National Health Survey from 1987 to 1997. Setting:Spanish non-institutionalised adult population. Main results:In the last ten years the disadvantaged population of Spain (Social Class groups IV and V)has not opted for healthier behavioural choices, on the contrary the Health Practices Index figures have worsen during the study period.Conversely the more affluent groups (I, II and III) exhibit a net gain. Conclusions:An increase in the existing gap of health inequalities in Spain in terms of morbidity and mortality,can be forecasted for the near future.A replication of this study in other developed countries could produce valuable information on the future trends of health inequalities in different cultural, social and economic milieus





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