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Socioeconomic gradients in the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in Scotland: the roles of composition and context
  1. Alastair H Leyland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr A H Leyland
 MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, 4 Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow G12 8RZ, Scotland;


Objective: To investigate whether occupational social class and area deprivation are independently associated with the prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) conditions after adjustment for smoking status.

Design: Stratified multistage random sample analysed using multilevel logistic regression.

Participants: 8804 adults aged 18–74 at time of interview in 1998–1999, clustered in 312 small areas. The outcome considered was a self report of doctor diagnosis of one of a number of CVD conditions. The survey also provided information concerning the respondent’s occupational social class and current smoking status. The Carstairs score (based on the 1991 census) was used to describe small area deprivation.

Main results: The gradient in CVD prevalence across individual social class was attenuated and became insignificant when area deprivation was considered. The aggregation of individual social class and smoking to the area level increased the correlation with disease prevalence at the individual level.

Conclusions: Although there is a relation between socioeconomic status and CVD prevalence in Scotland, the relation is dominated by area deprivation. When externally validated deprivation measures are not available, aggregated individual characteristics may show a contextual (as compared with compositional) relation.

  • CVD, cardiovascular disease
  • DIC, deviance information criterion
  • MOR, median odds ratio
  • cardiovascular disease
  • socioeconomic status
  • deprivation
  • contextual effects
  • multilevel modelling

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  • Funding: the Social and Public Health Science Unit is jointly funded by the Medical Research Council and the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Executive Health Department.

  • Competing interests: none.