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Tackling social inequalities in health has been a priority for recent UK governments. We used repeated national cross-sectional data for 155,311 participants (aged >= 16 years) in the Health Survey of England to examine trends in socio-economic inequalities in self-reported health over a recent period of sustained policy focus by successive UK governments aimed at tackling social inequalities in health. Socioeconomic related inequalities in self-reported health were estimated using the Registrar General's occupational classification (1996-2009), and for sensitivity analyses, the National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC; 2001-2011). Multi-level regression was used to evaluate time trends in General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) scores and bad or very bad self-assessed health (SAH), as well as EQ-5D utility scores. The study found that the probability of reporting GHQ-12 scores >= 4 and >= 1 was higher in those from lower social classes, and decreased for all social classes between 1997 and 2009. For SAH, the probability of reporting bad or very bad health remained relatively constant for social class I (professional) [0.028 (95%CI: 0.026, 0.029) in 1996 compared to 0.028 (95%CI: 0.024, 0.032) in 20091, but increased in lower social classes, with the greatest increase observed amongst those in social class V (unskilled manual) [0.089 (95%CI: 0.085, 0.093) in 1996 compared to 0.155 (95%CI: 0.141, 0.168) in 2009]. EQ-5D utility scores were lower for those in lower social classes, but remained comparable across survey years. In sensitivity analyses using the NS-SEC, health outcomes improved from 2001 to 2011, with no evidence of widening socio-economic inequalities. Our findings suggest that socio-economic inequalities have persisted, with evidence of widening for some adverse self-reported health outcomes. Crown Copyright (C) 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Original publication




Journal article


Social Science & Medicine

Publication Date





135 - 146


england eq-5d utility scores ghq self-assessed health social class social inequities common mental-disorders measuring population health rated health european countries risk-factors psychiatric morbidity social inequalities income inequality whitehall-ii time-trend