Aims: This study describes inequalities and trends in health according to socioeconomic status in the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT I and II) and contribute to the ongoing discussion on the magnitude of inequalities in health in the Nordic welfare states. To produce data comparable to recent European studies, occupational data in the HUNT Study were reclassified according to the international Erikson Goldthorpe Portocarero (EGP) social class scheme.
Methods: Two cross-sectional health surveys were undertaken with a 10-year interval, HUNT I (1984-86) and HUNT II (1995-97). This was a primary healthcare, total-county population study, participants for this analysis being men aged 25-69 years.
Results: A consistent pattern was found of increasing health problems with decreasing socioeconomic status for four health variables: self-perceived health, temporary disability, any long-standing health problem, and chronic conditions. The prevalence ratio between the highest and lowest status groups for "perceived health less than good" was 2.0 in the first survey and 2.1 in the second 10 years later. The magnitude of differences for the other health outcomes was at this level or smaller, with no significant overall time trend from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.
Conclusions: The magnitude of socioeconomic gradients in health in this study seemed somewhat smaller than results from national studies, and on the average compared to studies from other European countries; there was no detectable time trend in health differentials. International comparative studies have suggested considerably larger inequalities in health according to social class in Norway using national data.