The effect of socioeconomic deprivation on fracture incidence in the United Kingdom

Osteoporos Int. 2004 Jul;15(7):520-4. doi: 10.1007/s00198-003-1564-3.


Lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity vary in different social and income groups, and are known to be important influences on the incidence of osteoporotic fractures. Financial and social pressures are a common concern for older people. We set out to study the effect of socioeconomic deprivation on the incidence of fracture in older people and to compare the findings with those for younger groups. The All Wales Injury Surveillance System (AWISS) is a computerized system that collects injury data from most A&E departments throughout Wales. In this population-based study of 1.8 million people living in the 445 electoral tracts covered by AWISS in south, west, and northeastern Wales, we identified all 60,106 residents who presented with a fracture in 1999 and 2000. We linked details of their fracture with published Townsend deprivation scores for the electoral tract in which they were living and calculated fracture rates by fifths of deprivation. We observed the expected pattern of increasing fracture incidence in older age groups. Fracture incidence was significantly higher in electoral wards with poorer Townsend scores, resulting from a marked effect of socioeconomic deprivation on fracture incidence among younger adults with a rate ratio of 1.64 (95% CI, 1.57 to 1.72). This effect diminished with age, and was not observed in older age groups. At ages 85 and over the rate ratio was 0.94 (95% CI, 0.87 to 1.01). Socioeconomic factors clearly play a part in the causation of fracture in younger adults. Lifestyle influences are important in older age groups, but socioeconomic deprivation does not appear to be a risk factor for the development of osteoporotic fractures in elderly people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Home
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Unemployment
  • Wales / epidemiology