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Social mobility over the lifecourse and self reported mental health at age 50: prospective cohort study
  1. Paul A Tiffin,
  2. Mark S Pearce,
  3. Louise Parker
  1. Paediatric and Lifecourse Epidemiology Research Group, School of Clinical Medical Sciences, Sir James Spence Institute, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M Pearce
 Sir James Spence Institute, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK;


Study objective: To investigate the effect of socioeconomic status throughout the lifecourse on self reported mental health at age 50 years.

Design: Prospective cohort study

Setting: Community setting in Newcastle upon Tyne, north east England.

Participants: 503 subjects from a birth cohort assembled in 1947 who completed the 28 item version of the general health questionnaire (GHQ-28).

Main results: There was an association between socioeconomic group at birth and reporting a clinically significant GHQ-28 score at age 50 (OR 5.5 95% CI 1.2 to 25.4 comparing the least with the most advantaged socioeconomic group). A downward socioeconomic trajectory over the whole lifecourse was associated with poorer self reported mental health in men (p<0.001) but not women (p = 0.8).

Conclusions: Socioeconomic position throughout the lifecourse may act differently on mental health at middle age depending on a person’s sex.

  • mental health
  • socioeconomic status
  • lifecourse

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  • Funding: this work was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Minnie Henderson Trust, the Sir John Knott Trust, and the Special Trustees of the Newcastle Hospitals.

  • Competing interests: none.

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