Health-related behaviors in older adults relationships with socioeconomic status

Am J Prev Med. 2010 Jan;38(1):39-46. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.08.026.


Background: There is limited information about the clustering of health behaviors in older people.

Purpose: This study aims to examine clustering of smoking, low levels of physical activity, and risky drinking in older adults and the relationship of these behaviors with measures of SES.

Methods: Data on health behaviors were analyzed from 11,214 individuals aged > or =50 years (mean age=65.2 years) who participated in the 2002 wave of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Clustering was examined by studying the ratio of observed to expected prevalence of each combination of health behavior. Logistic regressions tested the relationship between socioeconomic measures (education, wealth, and subjective social status) and health behaviors. Data were collected between March 2002 and March 2003, and analyses were conducted in 2008.

Results: Only a small proportion of participants reported all three health-risk behaviors, although this was higher than that expected on the basis of prevalence of individual behaviors. Combinations of two health-risk behaviors were common. Multiple health-risk behaviors were less common among individuals of a higher SES. Total accumulated wealth and subjective social status were more consistently related to health-risk behaviors than education in this population.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence of clustering of health-risk behaviors in older adults and suggests that interventions aimed at multiple risk factors could usefully target less affluent groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Social Class*
  • United Kingdom