STUDY OBJECTIVE--The study aimed to assess the association of different indicators of socioeconomic status with levels of cardiovascular disease risk factors in men and women aged 25-64 years. DESIGN--This was a cross sectional survey, using a community based random sample. SETTING--The provinces of North Karelia and Kuopio in eastern Finland and the cities of Turku and Loimaa and surrounding communities in southwestern Finland in 1987. PARTICIPANTS--Altogether 2164 men and 2182 women aged 25-64 years took part. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--Data were collected using self administered questionnaires and the measurement of height, body weight, and blood pressure and blood sampling for lipid determinations were done at the survey site. The risk of cardiovascular disease was determined by calculating a simple risk factor score based on the observed values of HDL and total cholesterol, leisure time, physical activity, blood pressure, medication for hypertension, body mass index, and smoking. Indicators of socioeconomic position used were years of education, family income, marital status, and the person's occupation. Lower levels of education, occupation, and income were all significantly associated with an unfavorable risk factor profile in men and women. Education and occupation showed the strongest associations with the risk factor score in both men and women. The results changed little when adjusting for income and marital status. Family income was more strongly associated with the risk factor score in women than men. When adjusting for occupation and education, income was no longer significantly associated with the risk factor score in men. Marital status was not significantly associated with the risk factor score in either sex. CONCLUSIONS--Using the strength of the association with the cardiovascular risk factor score as the criterion for a good socioeconomic indicator, the present study suggests that education and occupation may be equally good indicators in both men and women. Family income may have some additional importance, especially in women.
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