Introduction In Latin-America, social inequalities play an important role as determinants of health conditions. This study aimed to analyse associations among social inequalities, health status and healthcare utilisation in Brazilian elderly men.
Methods The study was based on 2859 old men living in a medium size city in Southeast Brazil. Two-stage cluster analysis was performed using socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. To verify possible associations between cluster characteristics and health variables prevalence ratios (PR) and their 95% CI were estimated.
Results Three clusters were identified. Individuals in Cluster 1 (socioeconomically favourable) were married, owned their homes and no longer worked. In Cluster 2 (socioeconomically intermediate) were the younger and still economically active men and in Cluster 3 (socioeconomically unfavourable) were mostly widowers with few years of schooling. In comparison to Cluster 1, men in Cluster 3 had high probability of referring use of public health services (PR 1.17 95% CI 1.10 to 1.24), report chronic conditions (PR 1.12 95% CI 1.02 to 1.23) and have no regular physician (PR 1.30 95% CI 1.17 to 1.44); men in Cluster 2 had low probability of referring poor health (PR 0.62 95% CI 0.52 to 0.63), reporting chronic conditions (PR 0.70 95% CI 0.63 to 0.79) and relating regular use of medication (PR 0.77 95% CI 0.71 to 0.83).
Conclusion Socioeconomic differences are associated with health status and use of health services in this population. Social inequalities leading to poor living conditions and other environmental exposures further enhance their vulnerability. Measures to identify these high risk individuals, reduce inequalities and facilitate the access to health services are necessary in order to reverse current standards.
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