Objectives: We examine whether multiple health-related quality of life (HRQoL) measures are stratified by socioeconomic status (SES) and age in the United States.
Methods: Data are from the 2005/2006 National Health Measurement Study, a telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. We plot mean HRQoL scores by SES within age groups. Regression analyses test whether education, income, and assets each have independent associations with three "preference-based" HRQoL measures and self-rated health (SRH). We test whether these associations vary by age.
Results: There are SES disparities in HRQoL and SRH among adults in the United States at all age groups. Income differentials in HRQoL are strong across current adult age cohorts, except the 75-89 age cohort. Education and assets have statistically significant but weaker associations with HRQoL. All three SES measures are associated with SRH (net of each other) at every age group. Those in the lowest income and education groups in the 35-44 age cohort have worse HRQoL and SRH than those in higher SES groups in the 65+ age cohort.
Discussion: Significant improvements in HRQoL at the population level will only be possible if we improve the HRQoL of people at the lowest end of the socioeconomic distribution.