Small area variations in health related behaviours; do these depend on the behaviour itself, its measurement, or on personal characteristics?

Health Place. 2000 Dec;6(4):261-74. doi: 10.1016/s1353-8292(00)00008-3.


In this paper we examine the patterning, by small areas, of four health related behaviours (smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, and exercise) in the West of Scotland, after controlling for a range of individual/household characteristics, using multilevel models. Smoking and drinking were measured both as binary and as continuous variables, and diet and exercise were each measured in two ways: 'good' (health promoting) and 'bad' (health damaging). 'Area effects' (unattributed variation by post code sector) were found for 'bad' diet only. 'Good' and 'bad' diet, 'bad' exercise patterns and current smoking were associated with postcode sector deprivation. For 'bad' diet this effect was found only for individuals in more affluent households, and for 'good' exercise and current smoking the association with area deprivation differed between adolescents and adults. We conclude that the influence of area on health related behaviours varies according to the behaviour and the way it is measured, and that the influence of area deprivation and/or of area can vary by age and household deprivation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cultural Deprivation*
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty Areas*
  • Prevalence
  • Scotland / epidemiology
  • Small-Area Analysis
  • Smoking / epidemiology