Socio-economic influences on self-rated health in Russian men and women--a life course approach

Soc Sci Med. 2005 Dec;61(11):2345-54. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.07.034. Epub 2005 Sep 6.


Socio-economic differentials in health in Russia are not well understood and the life course approach has been relatively neglected. This paper examines the influence of socio-economic risk factors over the life course on the self-rated health of older Russian men and women. A random sample (response rate 61%) of the general population of the Russian Federation in 2002 included 1004 men and 1930 women aged 50 years and over in a cross-sectional study. They provided information concerning their childhood circumstances, including going to bed hungry; education; current social conditions, including per capita household income; health behaviours and self-rated health. There was considerable tracking of adverse social conditions across the life course with men and women who reported hunger in childhood having lower educational achievements, and current household income was strongly influenced by educational attainment. The effect of these socio-economic risk factors on health accumulated with an odds ratio of poor health of 1.87 [1.07-3.28] for men with one risk factor, 3.64 [2.13-6.22] for two risk factors and 4.51 [2.57-7.91] for all three compared to men with no risk factors. For women, the odds ratios were 1.44 [1.05-2.01], 2.88 [2.10-3.93] and 4.27 [3.03-6.00] for one, two and three risk factors, respectively. Current income was the strongest individual predictor for men, and education for women. Adjustment for health behaviours reduced the odds ratios only marginally. The results suggest that self-rated health in older Russians reflects social exposures accumulated over the life course, with the differentials observed only partially explained by current social conditions. Health behaviours were not involved in mediating social differences in self-rated health. Our results indicate that a life course approach may contribute to the understanding of health in Russia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Russia / epidemiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors