Background Low social economic position is linked to higher rates of mortality and morbidity. Socioeconomic factors are reported to predict admission to hospital for many conditions. It is less clear if residential area deprivation index predicts hospital usage independently of individual social class and lifestyle factors.
Methods We examined the relationship between residential Townsend’s Area Deprivation Index and subsequent admissions to hospital and time spent in hospital for 11,214 men and 13,763 women aged 40–79 years in the general population.
Participants from the EPIC-Norfolk prospective population-based study were followed for nineteen years (1999–2018) using record linkage. Townsend’s Index from the small area measurements taken at the 1991 UK census was linked to individuals in the EPIC-Norfolk cohort using their postal code.
Results Compared to those with residential Townsend Area Deprivation Index lower than the average for England and Wales, those with a higher than average deprivation index had a higher likelihood of spending more than twenty days in hospital multivariable adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.18 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.07–1.29) and having 7 or more admissions OR 1.11 (95% CI 1.02–1.22) after adjustment for age, sex, smoking status, education, social class, body mass index and prevalent diseases. Those with manual social class were at greater risk of hospitalisation compared to those with a non-manual social class when living in an area with higher deprivation index (p Interaction=0.025). Similarly, those with a lower education level living in a more deprived area had a higher risk of hospitalisation (p Interaction=0.020) when compared with those with a higher education level.
Conclusion Residential area deprivation predicts future hospitalisations - time spent in hospital and number of admissions - independently of individual social class and education level and other behavioural factors. There are significant interactions such that residential area deprivation has greater impact in those with low education level or manual social class.
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