Introduction/objectives Individual socioeconomic status (SES) is a determinant of cardiovascular risk factors (RF). Recent studies suggest an independent association of neighbourhood SES with cardiovascular RF, but the mechanisms have not fully been understood. Our aim was to assess the association of neighbourhood and individual SES with cardiovascular RF in an Eastern German population.
Methods We used cross-sectional data of 1779 participants aged 45–83 years of the population-based CARLA study. We calculated linear mixed models to assess the age-adjusted influence of neighbourhood-specific unemployment rates and individual SES on smoking, systolic blood pressure (SBP), and body mass index (BMI). Spatial dependencies within and between neighbourhoods were adjusted for by using ICAR models.
Results Neighbourhood-specific unemployment rates varied between 6.3 and 35.3%. Per 1% increase in the neighbourhood's unemployment rate, the number of cigarettes smoked/day increased by 0.11 in men (95% CI 0.09 to 0.12) and 0.05, (CI 0.04 to 0.07) in women. In women, SBP increased by 0.04 mm Hg with unemployment rate (CI 0.03 to 0.06), while there was no statistically significant association of SBP with SES in men. BMI was only in women significantly associated with unemployment (increase in BMI per 1% increase in unemployment rate 0.04 (CI 0.02 to 0.05)). Associations of RF with individual SES were stronger than with neighbourhood SES in multiple models.
Conclusions Our findings confirm the previously described association of neighbourhood SES with smoking independent of individual SES, while we found inconsistent associations with SBP and BMI. The neighbourhood environment may be more relevant for behavioural than for biomedical risk factors.
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