STUDY OBJECTIVE: The level of material deprivation or affluence is strongly and independently correlated with all cause mortality at an area level, but educational attainment, after controlling for deprivation-affluence, remains strongly associated with coronary and infant mortality. This study investigated whether these relations hold at an individual level with self reported morbidity. DESIGN: Analysis of the cross sectional associations of self reported longstanding illness and "not good" or "fairly good" self assessed health with individual educational attainment in seven levels, adjusting for deprivation measures (economic status of head of household, car ownership, housing tenure, overcrowding). SETTING: The 1993 General Household Survey, a random sample of households in Great Britain. PARTICIPANTS: 11,634 subjects aged 22 to 69. MAIN RESULTS: After adjusting for household deprivation, lower educational attainment was significantly associated with longstanding illness in men (odds ratio 1.05 per education category, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.08), but not in women (odds ratio 1.01, 95% CI 0.98 to 1.04). The associations with "not good" or "fairly good" self assessed health were stronger and significant in both men and women (men 1.13, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.17; women 1.10, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.14). The findings were little changed by allowing for people in poor health becoming economically inactive. CONCLUSIONS: The associations of self reported health with deprivation-affluence are stronger than with educational attainment. However, educational attainment is associated with self assessed health in adulthood, independently of deprivation-affluence. Longstanding illness may be associated with educational attainment in men only. Educational attainment may be a marker for childhood socioeconomic circumstances, its association with health may result from occupational characteristics, or education may influence the propensity to follow health education advice.
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