Background: Behavioural, material and psychosocial risk factors may explain educational inequalities in general health. To what extent these risk factors have similar or different contributions to educational inequalities in mental health is unknown. Methods: Data were derived from the Norwegian Survey of Level of Living from 2005, comprising 5791 respondents aged 25 years. The study objectives were addressed by means of a series of logistic regression analyses in which we examined: (i) educational inequalities in self-reported general and mental health; (ii) the associations between behavioural, material and psychosocial risk factors and general and mental health, controlled for sex, age and education; and (iii) the contribution of risk factors to the observed health gradients. Results: The lower educated were more likely to be in poor health [odds ratio (OR): 3.46 (95% confidence interval, CI: 2.84-4.21)] and to be in poor mental health [OR: 1.41 (95% CI: 1.12-1.78)] than the highest educated. The joint contribution of behavioural, material and psychosocial risk factors explained all the variations of mental health inequalities, whereas these were able to explain ∼40% of the inequalities in general health. Both behavioural and material risk factors contributed substantially to the explanation of general and mental health inequalities, whereas the psychosocial risk factor (i.e. having close persons to communicate with) only seemed to make a larger difference for the explanation of mental health inequalities. Conclusion: Policies and interventions to reduce health inequalities should have a broad focus. Combined strategies should be applied to improve physical activity, decrease smoking and improve material and psychosocial conditions among lower educated groups, to achieve the true potential of reducing inequalities in both general and mental health. © 2012 Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association. All rights reserved.

dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/cks055, hdl.handle.net/1765/39868
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Kurtze, N, Eikemo, T.A, & Kamphuis, C.B.M. (2013). Educational inequalities in general and mental health: Differential contribution of physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption and diet. doi:10.1093/eurpub/cks055