An association between health and socio-economic status is well known. Based on international and national studies, the aims of this study were to develop a multi-dimensional index at the municipality level, to provide information about socio-economic deprivation in Hungary and to investigate the association between socio-economic status and the spatial distribution of premature mortality due to diseases of the circulatory system. Seven municipality level socio-economic indicators were used from the National Information System of Spatial Development (income, low qualification, unemployment, one-parent families, large families, density of housing and car ownership). After normalisation and standardisation, indicator weights were evaluated using factor analysis. A risk analysis study was conducted using the Rapid Inquiry Facility software to evaluate the association between deprivation and the spatial distribution of premature mortality due to diseases of the circulatory system for the years 1998-2004. Areas of significantly high deprivation were identified in the northeastern, eastern and southwestern parts of Hungary. A statistically significant association was found between premature cardiovascular mortality and deprivation status in both genders. The Deprivation Index is the first composite index at the municipality level in Hungary and includes key factors that affect socio-economic status. The identified association highlighted the fact that inequalities in socio-economic status may reflect the spatial distribution of health status in a population. The results can be used to inform prevention strategies and help plan local health promotion programs aimed at reducing health inequalities.
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